WALVIS BAY – Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Bernard Esau has urged the entire fishing industry to capitalise on current low fuel prices and the depreciation of the Namibian currency against major currencies and create strong reserves for stormy days ahead.
He was addressing the fishing industry during his annual address held at Walvis Bay on Friday.
Esau said such positives will not last long and the export orientated fisheries industry should fully optimise them by creating fuel reserves and investing in their operations.
“Take advantage of forex. Our fisheries industry is export-orientated, as the total landings are being exported to various countries. A depreciation of our currency against major currencies is an advantage for our industry, as it gets more Namibian dollars for every Euro and American dollar earned,” he said.
“I am urging the fishing industry to take advantage of this and create strong reserves for the future.
“When your quota or Total Allowable Catch (TAC) is low, you should be able to go to your reserves to carry you through. Don’t retrench or lay off or just declare your dividends,” Esau counselled the fishing sector.
He highlighted the impact fuel prices, especially diesel, has on the operational cost of the fishing industry.
Diesel prices decreased between January and March this year by about 18 percent per litre, which was occasioned by the global oversupply of crude oil.
“This decrease is a great advantage for the fishing industry, as it resulted in lower operational costs. Therefore, I am urging the industry to take advantage of this positive global performance and invest such windfall earnings in fleet modernisation, among others, as such low prices might not last long. It is a fact that quite a number of vessels are 60 years and older. We should not comprise the safety of our crew and invest our windfall earnings,” he said.
The overall export value of fisheries increased by N$1.3 billion during the 2014/2015 financial year.
According to him, the overall export value of fisheries for the 2014/2015 financial year stood at N$7 billion compared to N$ 5.7 billion during the 2013/2014 financial year.
He attributed the increase to improved sizes in various fish species as well as an increase in prices.
Esau added that the TAC also increased from 528 796 metric tons in 2013/2014 to 605 450 metric tons in the current financial year.
“The total landings in 2014 was 412 173 metric tons compared to 519 606 metric tons during 2013 and this presents a minimal decrease of 21 percent. However, the overall health of our fisheries is therefore good,” elaborated the fisheries minister.
He thanked the industry for continued confidence and loyalty to the sector by committing funds through investment.
He added this supports “growth at home which is expected to reverse the outflow of much-needed job opportunities, value addition, quality of forex earnings and stimulate economic growth”.
“This, in a nutshell, will help us fight poverty and inequality. President Hage Geingob made it very clear that one of the key objectives of his government is to mount an all-out attack on poverty and inequality. Therefore, I am giving my steadfast and unshaken support to this clarion call and plead to ensure this sector makes measurable contributions to the fight against poverty and inequality,” he said.