WALVIS BAY – Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Bernard Esau says fishing quotas are certainly not an entitlement but a privilege to exploit the industry in a sustainable manner for the benefit of all Namibians.
He said he has the mandate to allocate preferential quotas to right holders in line with the Fisheries and Marine Resources Act of 2000.
“I was going through the Act to see, but there is nothing that prevents me to do so. I want to make it clear to the entire industry that the fact that you received a 10 000-tonne quota for the past 10 years doesn’t guarantee you anything or is an indicator of future allocation levels,” he stated.
“We concentrated first on catching our fish and then shifted to processing it. Now we focus on value addition and job creation. From now on we shall put special emphasis on contributions by right holders to eliminate poverty and inequality in our decision-making process of right renewals and annual quota allocations,” he said when he addressed the fishing sector on Friday.
“I will make it a law and this is not corruption. I was given the mandate to do so. Those who say such allocations are corrupt, I am ready to fight them this year. I can use all the resources at my disposal to do that,” warned Esau.
“The government has adopted a right-basis approach to exploit fisheries. Where annual quotas are allocated on right-holders basis for available resources. The granting of fish rights to a right holder/company is not an entitlement but rather a privilege accorded to that organisation on behalf of the Namibian people,” he stressed.
“And we will make it clear very soon. In order to justify continued exploitation of that right, a company needs to demonstrate that their business benefits not only the enterprise but also Namibians. I would like to underline that the extension of a right, as provided for in the Marine Resource Act of 2000 is not automatic but needs to be justified with the current policy provisions,” he stressed.
Esau then pointed out that claiming or demanding for a quota because it is one’s right is baseless.
“You need to demonstrate that what was allocated to you benefited all Namibians, not only for personal enrichment. I cannot also give quotas outside the available resources,” he said.
“As far as we are concerned, all right holders are treated equally. Everybody is evaluated on the same basis when granted quotas and rights. Allocation is in a transparent manner determined by performance indicators such as value addition and employment creation,” he added.
“Currently, 15 rights of right holders expired and were given temporary extensions pending the completion of the evaluation process, which is currently under way. We never went out and out to invite people to apply. Is that corruption. I am ready to fight for this resource and will use all tools at my disposal,” Esau lashed out.