'Missing' quota divides Fishcor, Seaflower

24 February 2021 | Fishing

OGONE TLHAGE

WINDHOEK



African Selection Trust (AST) chairperson Adriaan Louw has accused Fishcor board chairperson Mihe Gaomab II of being dishonest about a 9 000-tonne fishing quota allocated to a joint-venture company both have shares in.

The joint-venture company, Seaflower Pelagic Processing (SPP), had been accused of misappropriating the quota allocation by Fishcor.

Gaomab, for his part, said at a press conference this week that there was a high level of distrust regarding AST and any relationship it had with the company.

“Fishcor gave 9 000 metric tonnes and it is not accounted for. I made a formal request in October. If there is no confidence in the partnership, we don't have it, with due respect,” Gaomab said of the unallocated quota. Louw denied any misappropriation of the quota on the part of SPP. According to him, there was never any foul play on the part of SPP and it was Fishcor that was in breach of contract.

“SPP provided him and the Fishcor board with a full reconciliation of quota utilisation in August 2020. This was at the specific request of Ms [Ruth] Herunga on 18 August 2020. The total quota caught was also reported to Fishcor Lüderitz on a monthly report basis throughout the year,” said Louw.

“There has been zero proof of misconduct by SPP. SPP was further not in a position to sell the quota onwards.

“The full 9000 metric tonnes were caught and processed. SPP is not in a legal position to sell any joint-venture quota to third parties.

“Only Fishcor, as the authorised quota holder, is entitled to sell quota to the benefit of the JV. Mr Gaomab is misleading the public. He should know that the quota cannot be misappropriated by SPP,” Louw added.

Gaomab was also accused of selling the quota allocation of another Fishcor joint-venture partner, Copemar.

“He sold the quota for Copemar/Seacope JV, reneging again on their deal. He is now desperately hoping Fishcor will get more quota,” Louw said.

Court case

Fishcor walked out of talks with African Selection Trust to settle a dispute involving the future of Seaflower Pelagic Processing.

Fishcor has in the meantime approached the High Court to cancel the joint-venture arrangement it has with AST.

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 court papers filed this month, Gaomab expressed no interest in proceeding with arbitration, saying that 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.

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