Fishing quotas for elite, says PDM

The party says the industry should benefit all Namibians and be cleared of corruption and self-enrichment.

31 May 2018 | Fishing

The national chairperson of the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), Jennifer van den Heever, said despite the country's vast natural riches that fishing quotas, among others, only benefit the rich, politically well-connected and public officials.

“[The] public does not get a sniff at the marine resources of the country. The PDM sincerely hopes that members of the public benefit from the allocations this time around,” Van den Heever said.

Fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau, on Tuesday called for applications for 96 new fishing rights in nine fisheries and have encouraged Namibians, particularly previously disadvantaged groups, to apply.

Van den Heever says the application criteria as set out in the government notice released on 24 May are “very exclusive” and hardly consider the poor, disabled and currently disadvantaged.

According to the government notice only companies registered as proprietary limited entities are eligible to apply.

Van den Heever says this plays into the hands of the so-called elite “fishmonger lawmakers” with big companies in good standing and in partnership with foreigners with enough and good equipment for fishing.

Moreover, she says Esau fails to mention how small and medium enterprises can get their foot in the door, adding that the demise of the SME Bank is thanks to the same “fishmonger lawmakers”.

“The fishing quotas have mainly been dominated by the same businesses since their first issuance in 1992. As these businesses mostly operate for more than 15 years the fishing rights and benefits only benefit certain members of society,” Van den Heever laments, and says her party wants to know why fishing rights are allocated over such a protracted period to the same crowd.

The PDM says the duration of the fishing rights should be shortened so that other people can also have a fair shot at sharing in the country's natural resources.

It says businesses that have had fishing rights for 20 years should not be considered for new rights.

Esau this week announced that old rights holders are eligible to reapply for fishing rights to protect jobs and investments.

PDM welcomes the fact that the fisheries ministry will publish all applications and successful bidders on the internet, but calls for a different approach in the selection of beneficiaries.

It says the allocations should be conducted in an open and inclusive manner and involves different stakeholders instead of only certain public officials in the fisheries ministry.

“We also hope the minister sticks to his word about ensuring that every company performs adequately and is evaluated on its performance to decide the continuation or termination of their fishing rights,” Van den Heever said.

The PDM says the fishing industry should benefit all Namibians and be cleaned of corruption and self-enrichment.

Catherine Sasman

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