Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Bernard Esau says he will be releasing a portion of the reserve quota within the next two weeks. However, the minister says he is intending to release the quota in line with the scorecard. Esau made the announcement on Friday at Walvis Bay while briefing the fishing sector on the progress made on mechanisms currently being developed for pro rata quota allocation. According to Esau, more time is needed in order to finalise the scorecard and hinted that the process will be completed within the next three months.
“In this regard I wish to inform all right holders that I shall be releasing some portion of the reserve quota within the next fortnight in order to facilitate your fishing operations,” he said.
The minister then clarified that the criteria to be considered in allocating quotas to right holders in the seven fisheries controlled by total allowable catches (TACs) is provided for in Sections 33 and 39 of the Marine Resources Act.
These fisheries are horse mackerel, hake, monk, pilchard, rock lobster, crab and seals.
He added that the ministry is therefore not embarking on a process to change the law, but rather to give meaning through weighting and scoring specific criteria of allocating quotas to right holders as specified in the Fisheries Act.
“Our consultations in the past on this topic tended to provoke quite divergent reactions from some stakeholders. While not discounting any views, open discussions were held and mutual conclusions arrived at. Our deliberations and consultations were not a platform for exploring philosophical views surrounding allocation of fishing quotas, but instead concentrated on the necessary steps to empower fishing enterprises and by extension the entire industry,” the minister explained.
The ministry has been allocating quotas to right holders in these fisheries based on information received from right holders according to criteria in line with the Act.
However, the criteria as applied till now were not clearly defined to indicate all aspects required, and also not weighted. The performance of various right holders could therefore not be quantified comprehensively.