The list of lawmakers who are active in Namibia’s mainstay fishing industry and benefitting handsomely from it reads like a Who’s-Who of the country.
And although the rights were awarded before some of the mentioned lawmakers entered parliament, most of them were in a position of influence when they applied for the coveted rights. Some of the serving lawmakers were ministers, deputy ministers, regional governors and town mayors when the rights were issued almost a decade ago.
Fishing regulations currently permit for one individual right holder to have rights in various fish species.
The appetite for fishing rights amongst the political class was laid bare in the recently-released asset declaration register made public in the National Assembly which indicates that at least 20% of parliamentarians own shares in fishing companies.
So let’s shine a searchlight on the MPs who derive an additional income from the country’s fisheries resources.
According to the register, only two opposition MPs have ties with fishing companies.
Chief Samuel Ankama(current deputy minister in the Office of the Prime Minister) has 15% shares in a firm called Oshongo Enterprises, Priscilla Boois has a stake in Moria Fishing company of which Katrina Hanse-Himarwa is a 15% shareholder. Hanse-Himarwa, who was the Hardap Governor at the time when the rights were issued, is also a director in Morcar Fishing meaning she is active in two companies.
Current deputy minister of Home Affairs Maureen Hinda has a 25% stake in Bethanien Fishing, while backbencher Faustina Caley holds a 15% stake in Inchingo Lyobwani Enterprises.
Christine Hoebes, a serving deputy minister and former aide of former president Hifikepunye Pohamba has 20% in Karenipamwe Fishing and 5% in another company operating in the fishing sector called Opononolo.
Frans Kapofi is another highly placed official who benefited from the rights at the time. The former Cabinet secretary’s company, Mbashe Fishing in which he is a director is also actively involved in the fishing sector.
Incumbent National Assembly Speaker Professor Peter Katjavivi has stakes in three companies operating in the fishing sector: Mukorob(14%), Ohere(15%) and Ngatukondje pamwe(25%).
Rally for Democracy and Progress secretary general Mike Kavekotora has a 10% stake in Ozoni Fishing while All People’s Party president Ignatius Shixwameni is part of Nkororo Fishing Investment. If the register is anything to go by, they are the only opposition politicians with interests in the fishing industry.
Juliet Kavetuna, who currently serves as the deputy health minister, has a 20% stake in Kenmacri CC while Alexia Manobe-Ncube has 5% in TVD Fishing.
Former Walvis Bay Mayor Derek Klazen is a director in Aluta Fishing. Former Omaheke Governor Laura McLeod Katjirua who now heads the political affairs of Khomas Region is a director in a company called Epia which is into fishing.
Peya Mushelenga, a deputy minister at the time the rights were issued, has a 20% in Aloe Investments.
Veikko Nekundi has stakes in Reho Fishing and RDS Fishing.
Utoni Nujoma, a minister at the time he got the fishing rights, has interests in Blue Sea Fishing Trust and Etosha Fisheries.
Current backbenchers Emilia Nuyoma-Amupewa(former Luderitz mayor) and Loide Shinavene have interests in Epoko Fishing and Selcar respectively. Shinavene is a 32% shareholder.
Lastly, Royal Kxao /Ui/o/oo has interests in Ombare Fishing Company.
Fishing is a pillar and important economic contributor to the country and the quest to use all resources to benefit all Namibians, especially those on the poor.
If government’s rhetoric of ensuring that all Namibians benefits from the resources of the country is anything to go by, there are signs that real empowerment could take place, and that a wide range of Namibians are ultimately the beneficiaries of the fishing quotas. The publication of the register in which the fishing interests of lawmakers are listed comes at a time when the scramble for fishing rights is in full swing, with many local and foreign companies sprinting to get their hands on one of the country’s most coveted entitlement.
A total of 75 fishing rights are set to expire by December 31, while 32 fishing rights already expired on December 31, 2017.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources has over the years worked on restructuring the economic architecture of the fisheries industry and by socialising the modes of production in a manner which gives impetus to tackling the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.
The ministerial head Bernard Esau has on numerous occasions called on Namibians who hold fishing rights to avoid selling off their rights to make instant money and rather focus on establishing viable fishing operations that employ Namibians.
Fishing is Namibia’s third largest economic sector, while Namibia is ranked among the top ten fishing countries in terms of the value of production. For 2015/16 Namibia generated N$10 billion in export revenues from fishing, up from N$7 billion the previous financial year.
The fishing industry is however experiencing problems due to low quotas in the small pelagic sector, with over 3,000 people retrenched since last year.
Declining fish stocks present a direct threat to food security in Namibia and threatens employment.
Over 13 000 jobs have been created under the Namibian fishing sector, whereby over 9 000 of these jobs resort in the Hake fishery.
Hake horse mackerel and pilchard are the most dominant fishing products in Namibia when it comes to job creation.
Official information indicate that in 2010 the number of employees in the hake industry stood at 8956, pilchards 1361 and horse mackerel 1029.
Fishing industry insights
Namibian fisheries form part of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem and can be divided into Small Pelagic (purse seine catches such as Pilchards or Sardines, Round Sardinella, Juvenile Cape and Cunene Horse Mackerel and Round Herring/Red Eye), Large Pelagic/Pole and Long-Line (Yellowfin Tuna, Bigeye Tuna, Albacore Tuna, Swordfish), Mid-water Trawl (Cape and Cunene Horse mackerel, John Dory, Alfonsino, Reds), Bottom Trawl and Long Line (Deepwater Cape Hake, Shallow-Water Cape Hake and Dentex, Jacopever, Monkfish, Snoek, Sole, Kingklip, Angelfish), Trap (Deep Sea Red-Crab, Rock Lobster) and Line Fish (Silver Cob/Kabeljou, Steenbras, Galjoen).
Not all of the above fisheries are subjected to quotas and measures under section 39 of the Marine Resource Act, 2000.
Some of them are by-catches off the harvesting of species subjected to quotas and measures. An example of by-catches is Snoek, Alfonsino, John Dory and Reds, which are off the harvesting of Horse Mackerel species.
Another example is the by-catch of Jacopever off the harvesting of Hake.
As at 2010 there were 199 licensed vessels harvesting marine resources, with the largest number being Demersal Trawlers (harvesting Hake). There are 10 Hake, 2 Pilchard and 1 Monk factories at Walvis Bay; 7 Hake factories at Luderitz; 1 Hake factory at Swakopmund; and, 2 Line Fish factories and 1 Seals factory at Henties Bay. There are 216 rights to harvest marine resources. The largest volume of species of fishery available is Horse Mackerel, followed by Hake with a TAC being set at 360 ‘000 metric tonnes and 170 ‘000 metric tonnes respectively.