Eveline de Klerk
SWAKOPMUND – The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernard Esau says only groups of individuals and companies applying for fish quotas and rights will be entertained this year.
Only Proprietary Limited (Pty/Ltd) will be up for consideration for lucrative fishing rights and fishing quota allocations this year.
Proprietary Limited means the company is privately held and the liability of the shareholders to pay the debts of the company is limited by the amount of individual shares held.
Esau made the announcement on Tuesday morning in Swakopmund, when he officially announced the period of application for fishing rights and the conditions to harvest some marine resources for commercial purposes in terms of the Marine Resources Act, 2000.
Esau says he has availed two full months, June 1 to July 31, for all to convert their close corporations to Pty/Ltd and to apply in time.
In the past, persons could apply for quota and rights through a Close Corporation. However, Esau said they made the amendment to avoid exploitation as well as issues that arise between companies and individuals.
“Some people in the past cried foul as they were used by certain companies and individuals to apply for quotas and rights,” he said.
Esau explained that such communities or individuals in the past were promised certain percentage of shareholding in these companies.
“Once these companies receive such fishing rights, they often exclude these vulnerable communities or persons from beneficiation in dividend sharing,” he said.
“Hence, I have taken this specific measure of requiring applicants to be Pty/Ltd companies to address current practise whereby vulnerable communities and individuals have in the past been used by some Section 21 companies, close corporations or trusts for the purpose of applying for fishing rights,” he said.
Esau said considering the fact that the legal framework for Section 21 companies, Close Corporations and trusts, as they do not have obligatory issuance of shareholding certificates.
This he says becomes difficult for such vulnerable communities to prove shareholding ownership and hence enforce dividend sharing.
Hence, only the applications for companies in Pty/Ltd will be entertained during the rights and quota allocations.
Companies who in the past were awarded quotas and rights through a close corporation will also not be entertained and were told during the meeting to start making the necessary changes.
“We do not care how old the Pty/Ltd is. Whether it is formed a day before the closing date for application. We will accept any application as long as it is submitted on or before the closing date which is the July 31,” stressed the fisheries minister.
He also announced there are 96 fishing rights to be issued in 2018, in nine fishery species namely hake, horse mackerel, monk, red crab, rock lobster, line fish, large pelagic, mullets and seals.
Fishing rights have been issued eight times since the independence of Namibia, in 1992, 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2012. This is the ninth time this activity is being undertaken.