Fishcor failing in its duty - Louw
08 March 2021 | Fishing
African Selection Trust chairperson Adriaan Louw says the National Fishing Corporation (Fishcor) is not meeting its obligations in the joint-venture company Seaflower Processing Pelagic.
Fishcor chairperson Mihe Gaomab II recently approached the High Court to terminate its participation in the joint-venture operation.
At the centre of the dispute is Fishcor's unwillingness to proceed with an agreement that enables Seaflower to benefit from a yearly 50 000-tonne horse mackerel quota allocation. In an affidavit filed, Louw reasoned that Fishcor's unwillingness to participate in its joint-venture arrangement was costing African Selection Trust dearly.
“Currently, African Selection Trust, with absolutely no support from Fishcor, is keeping the entire Seaflower land-based as well as ocean-based operation afloat at a cost, to date, of N$68 million and N$113 million respectively,” Louw said.
Fishcor was also in breach of its fiduciary obligations, he said.
Gaomab also lost sight of the fact that African Selection Trust made a huge investment in the joint-venture arrangement, Louw said.
“Mr Gaomab loses sight of the fact that African Selection Trust expended and invested in excess of N$687 million in a joint venture. It is misguided that the Fishcor board and, moreover, the minister of fisheries and the Namibian government, do not regard the fact that … Seaflower is a commercial venture,” Louw said. African Selection Trust last year tried to stop the ministry of fisheries from auctioning fishing rights. In a judgment ruling in favour of the ministry, Deputy Judge President Hosea Angula described the relationship between Fishcor and African Selection Trust as “parasitic”.
Louw denied any wrongdoing in the joint-venture.
“What the learned judge seems to have lost sight of was the fact that Fishcor and African Selection Trust were involved in a commercial venture and that there was no evidence of any misconduct on the part of African Selection Trust or Seaflower,” he said.
He further denied assertions by Gaomab that a corrupt relationship existed between African Selection Trust and Fishcor.
“Mr Gaomab's statements of a corrupt relationship between Fishcor and Seaflower are rejected.
“I reiterate that there was no corruption at play in regard to the establishment of the joint venture and the ultimate creation of Seaflower Pelagic Processing; the business was conducted properly and in a transparent manner,” Louw added.
Louw also said Fishcor's attempts to cancel the arbitration would not be entertained.
In court papers filed, Gaomab expressed no interest in proceeding with arbitration, saying the dispute would be better resolved in the High Court.
“This is a complex dispute. It also involves issues of public interest. This is in the context of the Fishrot scandal and the involvement of the then minister of fisheries [Bernhardt Esau] and the then chairperson of the board of directors of Fishcor [James Hatuikulipi] as active players and alleged beneficiaries in this scandal,” Gaomab said.