THE government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has paid N$85,7 million for its bid of 27 300 tonnes of the horse mackerel freezer quota.
The fish was part of the leftover of the governmental objective quota that went on auction in May.
The spokesperson of the Ministry of Finance, Tonateni Shidhudhu, confirmed this to The Namibian on Tuesday.
"The minister of fisheries and marine resources has, in terms of section 33 of the Marine Act, 2000, granted the DRC government the right to harvest the allocated MT of horse mackerel fish quota for the 2021 period, commencing 11 October 2021 until 31 December 2021," said Shidhudhu.
DRC made the payment after missing the deadline of 30 September. The fishing industry has questioned the preferential treatment given to DRC, which is outside the auction rules and regulations.
Shidhudhu added that the ministry will in due course announce the full details of the outcomes of the rest of the horse mackerel and monk auctions, held in June and August, respectively.
Industry experts are questioning the sale, as there are two-and-a-half months left before the closure of the horse mackerel fishing season, on 31 December.
"It's around 11 000 tonnes they need to catch per month, which means around five vessels if each vessel catches 2 200 tonnes per month, which most vessels have the capacity for. Then there are a few better with a capacity of around 3 000 to 3 500 tonnes per month," said the experts.
According to the auction statutory requirement, they should be harvested by a fishing vessel licensed in accordance with section 40 of the Marine Resources Act, Act 27 of 2000, and in particular section 40 (3). The section stipulates that such vessels should be operated by not less than 90% Namibians.
The minister can also impose further conditions, which he may determine.
Questions sent to the chairperson of the Horse Mackerel Mid-water Trawlers Association, Peter Carlson, have not been answered.
If the quota is not caught by the end of the season, experts suspect that the government will let them then catch the remainder next year, which is illegal.
Attention is now on how the DRC will organise and make agreements with vessel operators to catch the quota on such short notice.