ILO, EU supporting Namibia’s fisheries sector

Five economic sectors are targeted, namely coffee in Colombia, electronics in Vietnam, rubber gloves in Malaysia, textiles and clothing in Madagascar and fisheries in Namibia.

21 June 2021 | Economics

The fishing industry is an important source of employment, food, investment and foreign currency for Namibia. Uutoni Nujoma, Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation

The International Labour Organization (ILO), with support from the European Union (EU), has launched the Sustainable Supply Chains to Build Back Better (SSCBBB) project which will focus on promoting decent work opportunities in Namibia’s fisheries sector. The project is part of a global programme for the promotion of decent work in global supply chains. The project will run from April 2021 to March 2023.

Namibia is among the five beneficiary countries that will receive support to develop new knowledge, tools, guidance, policy advice, technical assistance and training to address the challenges and opportunities of decent work. Five economic sectors are targeted, namely coffee in Colombia, electronics in Vietnam, rubber gloves in Malaysia, textiles and clothing in Madagascar and fisheries in Namibia.

Officially launching the project virtually on 16 June 2021, Utoni Nujoma, Minister of Labour, Industrial Relations and Employment Creation, said, “the global supply chain in the fishing sector is of great importance to both Namibia and to the European Union. The fishing industry is an important source of employment, food, investment and foreign currency for Namibia. The sector employs directly in excess of 16,000 people and has potential for expansion. The European Union is the destination for 98% of Namibia’s exported processed and unprocessed fish. Namibia’s fishing exports generate approximately 15% of its foreign earnings.”

Objectives

Hopolang Phororo, the ILO director for Zimbabwe and Namibia outlined the key aims of the project, which are to promote decent work in the fisheries supply chains in Namibia, engage government, employers, workers and other stakeholders and promote social dialogue along the supply chain to keep decent work principles at the forefront. It also aims to explore possibilities for a “new normal” during and after Covid-19 recovery.

At the same launch ceremony, Alette Van Leur, fishing department director of the ILO in Geneva underlined that "today we applaud the government, employers and workers for their resilience in ensuring that the fisheries sector stays afloat amidst Covid-19 and to build back better while contributing to a better future of work."

Job Muniaro, secretary general of the National Union of Namibian Workers (NUNW) urged the country’s leadership to improve management of the fisheries sector. “If we manage our fisheries very well, and stop this unnecessary over-fishing, eliminate illegal fishing and safeguard our marine industry, Namibia will be able to create sustainable jobs for Namibians and foreign workers through value addition.’’ He also called for the establishment of an all Africa committee that will guide and enable the guarding of the marine industry across the African continent.

Adherence

According to Sinikka Antila, ambassador to the EU delegation in Namibia, the EU attached particular importance to decent work in the fisheries sector and adherence to the tenets of the ILO Work in Fishing Convention No. 188. The project will also seek to promote the zero tolerance to child and forced labour campaign, promote safe and healthy working conditions, freedom of association, human rights, trade policies and support the transition to the green economy. “The EU is not in support of any kind of jobs but decent jobs” she re-affirmed, recognising Namibia’s 31 years of being a respectable member of the international community and the opportunity it can take to advance decent work in the fishing supply chain.

Earlier in the day, the National Tripartite Advisory Committee (NTAC) for the SSCBBB project held its first meeting. The NTAC comprises key stakeholders in the fishing sector among them government, employers and business representatives, workers and trade unions representatives. Its key role is to identify opportunities for collaboration or partnership with other national programs, advise on implementation monitoring, data collection and analysis, and provide inputs to research and analysis in the fishing supply chains and the impact of Covid-19. The NTAC will also act as an advisory panel that discusses emerging issues concerning decent work and the impact of and responses to Covid-19 in the fisheries sector and suggest actions that government, employers and workers bodies and other stakeholders can take to advance decent work in the supply chain.

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