Walvis Bay — Fisheries minister Albert Kawana says the fish quotas the government intends to auction off are not that significant and will not have an effect on the fishing industry.
Kawana had earlier said that auctioning off quotas was the only means to speedily get foreign exchange to mitigate the costs of the effects of Covid-19, including procuring medicine and medical equipment.
Setting the record straight in a statement this week, Kawana explained that a small fraction out of 154 000 metric tons of total allowable catch (TAC) for hake would be auctioned to both international and local bidders.
"This, for example, is only 6 600 MT or 4.3% that will be auctioned. In the instance of horse mackerel, 95.7% remains for local utilisation. Out of 330 000 MT of the TAC, that translates to only 43 200 MT or 13% that will be available for both local and international companies for bidding. Thus 87% is for local utilisation," Kawana explained.
He added that of the 7 300 metric tons of monk, only 392 metric tons, which is 5% of the TAC, would be available for the auction, while 95% is available for local utilisation.
"The allegation that no consultation with the industry was done is completely false. I engaged the industry via a virtual meeting on 27 July. Governor of Erongo Neville Andre also attended the meeting and one of the issues that were discussed was the auction and a request from the industry to reserve a portion for local operators. Cabinet acceded to the request. It was decided by Cabinet on 4 August that in order to preserve employment, 40% of the quota should be reserved for local operating companies."
The minister said the reserved quota for locals would be divided into two streams, namely wet and freezer.
"Each with a different reserve price. The 60% open to both local and international will also have a different reserve price. In addition, only licensed Namibian vessels will be allowed to harvest the fish. This means that there will be more job opportunities for our people," he said.
The fisheries minister, however, said that the idea is to strike a balance between getting maximum benefits for the country's natural resources that in turn will help reduce government debts and dependency, while at the same time inject much-needed cash in government coffers.
"The process will be done in a transparent manner and all proceeds will go directly to the revenue account and will be revealed during the mid-term budget review to ensure transparency," Kawana said.