WALVIS BAY – Efuta Maasbanker, a wholly Namibian product, locally processed and canned horse mackerel has made its way into the shelves of Shoprite shopping outlets countrywide and would be available starting next week.
The canned fish is available in three flavours and is yet another initiative to add value to Namibian resources, as well as to promote the consumption of fish nationwide. The much hyped product was officially launched and introduced to the fishing industry last week in Walvis Bay by the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernard Esau. The Efuta Maasbanker is a joint initiative of two fishing companies Erongo Marine Enterprises and Etosha Fishing. Erongo Marine has provided Etosha with 200 tonnes of horse mackerel that were canned at cost. Thirteen thousand cartons of canned horse mackerel were already produced and are ready for the market. The canned fish is labelled in bright colours and is available in various flavours of brine, tomato sauce and chilli sauce. The canned fish boast a 24-month shelf life without requiring refrigeration and is being canned at Etosha, which currently employs about 650 people. During the official launch of the Efuta horse mackerel Esau applauded the two companies for leading by example by joining forces to address two of the most important strategic goals set for the fishing sector, which are employment creation in the aquaculture sector and value addition in the marine sector. “I trust that your product will not only contribute to a wider consumption of fish in our country, but will also earn valuable foreign exchange while creating much needed jobs in the fishing sector,” the minister said.
He explained that since independence in 1990, all horse mackerel catches were directly transhipped, which negatively affected the national goal of employment creation. “Moreover, in a drought year like now the urgency of managing our fishing resources sustainably to the benefit of all Namibians has become apparent. The horse mackerel industry is one of the most valuable fisheries in Namibia. The final value of exports in the fishing sector stood at N$5.1 billion for all Namibian fisheries by 2011. Half of that, N$2.5 billion was generated through horse mackerel, which clearly indicates that horse mackerel is the second largest economic contributor in terms of the fishing sector,” Esau said.
Esau further explained that apart form being a major economic contributor horse mackerel is the most commonly consumed fish in the country, as well as in Africa. “Thus we can see the importance of it and how vital it is to manage it properly. Without the benefits of the horse mackerel fishery, the fishing industry will be compromised.” According to the Managing Director of Erongo Marine Enterprise, Muetulamba Shingenge-Haipinge, Erongo Marine was only able to offer a limited number of job opportunities to Namibians through its sea-based operation. “In contrast Etosha Fishing had the foremost advanced onshore canning facility in southern Africa and could offer more job opportunities. However, the canning plant was not fully operating due the limitations of the prevailing total allowable catch for pilchards. On the contrary horse mackerel, which is the largest sector measured in volumes is not the largest when it comes to job creation. It is against this backdrop that it would be short-sighted for any player in the fishing industry not to venture into uncharted waters to try and come up with a solution to this imbalance,” she explained. Also speaking at the same occasion the board chairperson of Etosha Fishing, Johnny Nekwaya said adding horse mackerel to its product range would go a long way in the company’s efforts to ensure a more sustainable business operation with secure long-term employment for more Namibians.
By Eveline de Klerk