Walvis Bay — Fisheries minister Derek Klazen has told new fishing right holders to familiarise themselves with the operations of the fishing industry to avoid being taken for a ride by established players.
Klazen sent out the stern warning during the official opening of a series of induction workshops that are currently taking place at Walvis Bay for the new right holders.
Of the 5 176 right applications submitted, 862 applicants were disqualified, while 85 existing players in the industry had their rights renewed. A total of 213 new applicants were successful, translating to 298 successful applicants. The aim of the workshops is to give new entrants a clear understanding about the sector as well as to prepare and encourage them to foster sound business relationships among themselves and those they would be working with for the next seven years.
"You can relax for now... but not too much. Watch out for the big players and don't sign deals that can hold you hostage," Klazen told the new entrants, that mostly consist of women and the youth.
Klazen added that he is not painting the big players as the bad guys but merely wants to prepare the new entrants that the fishing industry is not all sunshine and roses.
"Some of these companies when it is time to pay out dividends will show you receipts of vessels bought, fuel receipts and other expenses just to pay out meagre dividends. Therefore, be aware and know what you are signing up for," Klazen said.
He also reprimanded right holders at the same time not to jump the gun by asking money upfront from the companies they are partnering with.
"Some of the new entrants are already going around to companies wanting millions while the quota is not even worth a million.
"I am sure some of you have a rude awakening and realised that the fishing industry is all about making money but also how you can diversify, which necessarily does not mean buying vessels. You can invest your money elsewhere as well, not necessarily a vessel that takes away most of your dividends," Klazen said.
Klazen also indicated that they are aware that those categorised in the various joint ventures are coming from different backgrounds and have different ideas. However, he says they need to work together as a group and that should not necessarily spell trouble but should afford them leverage when negotiating with technical operators.
"This should not be a deal breaker but allow yourself to learn from one another and gain experience on how to serve as directors of companies, among others, or simply learning another local language. All of us have the same objectives and want our people to benefit from our natural resources while stimulating new enterprises, even outside the fisheries sector to ensure that we all leave a great legacy for our children," Klazen added.