By Chrispin Inambao
Some right holders in the fishing sector owe the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources a whopping N$22 million in quota, landing, observer and uncaught fees from the period 2000 to 2004.
The issue is so serious that the Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Dr Abraham Iyambo said in his annual address to the sector last Friday at Swakopmund that Cabinet has resolved that the outstanding quota fees for 2000 – 2004 be settled before June 29 2007.
Initially, the amount owed stood at almost N$40 million but this has since been reduced after some of the defaulting rights holders paid arrears amounting to N$16 million.
“The quota fee is one of the major issues of concern for the ministry. Some rights holders have not yet settled their outstanding quota fees owed since 2000 – 2004. The deadline for payment was 31 December 2006,” he said.
“I have approached Cabinet on the outstanding quota fees for 2000 – 2004 and Cabinet resolved that outstanding quota fees for that period be paid in full before 29th June 2007,” said the minister, who added that the current fee structure would also be reviewed this year.
He says the sum owed could easily eclipse the N$22 million cited, as this figure covers only the period 2000 – 2004 and it excludes the last two years.
In the period 2000 right up to the first quarter of 2003, the fishing sector made substantial profits before a number of factors, such as the depreciation of the South African Rand against a basket of hard currencies such as the US dollar, the British pound and the Euro, came into play. High fuel prices also saw entities that made sufficient returns incurring huge losses.
Another negative aspect that eroded profit was the catches that became smaller.
The fee structure in the industry is being reviewed this year upon the completion of a study because the industry argues that these fees are unnecessary and “too many”.
Another issue pondered by Iyambo was the Namibianisation in the horse mackerel fishery and bunkering. He said the Namibianisation in the mid-water trawling will be reviewed this year and a meeting would be called soon and progress assessed.
During 2006, he said, a “breakthrough” took place in mariculture where there were substantial investments while markets of enormous potential have been identified for abalone and oysters.
“As both mariculture and freshwater aquaculture are gearing up for growth, there is a high potential for economic growth and direct employment creation in such sectors as production, processing, cold storage, research and development,” said the minister.
Construction of the second phase of the Epalela Fish Farm in Omusati has commenced and its complete construction is expected to cost N$8 million. And the second phase of the N$30 million Kamutjionga Inland Fisheries Institute in Kavango Region has started.
The construction of a fish feed plant at Omahenene/Onavivi Inland Aquaculture Centre in Omusati is expected to commence soon to provide fish feed on a small scale.
A turnaround study was conducted to improve the management and productivity of the Caprivi and Kavango fish farms.
But in Caprivi where it was estimated there were around 1.6 million individual fish in the ponds before the floods, flooding severely affected some of the infrastructure.
Bacterial contamination from the Zambezi River and its tributaries, where there were high levels of contamination, has now cleared up according the latest laboratory results.