“This is an important process, which will help clarify some of the concerns raised by right holders with regard to quota allocation,” fisheries minister Bernhard Esau told a consultation meeting of the fishing industry at Walvis Bay last week.
The ministry initiated a review of the policy and legislation earlier this year to align the legislation with the current state of the fisheries sector to ensure proper management of resources and how it should benefit the nation, reports TheNamibian.
A draft policy was adopted and presented to stakeholders from all the 14 regions.
Mr Esau's announcement on the development of a new quota allocation system comes shortly after the chairman of the Confederation of Namibia Fishing Associations, Matti Amukwa, called for a “level playing field” within the industry in the utilisation of fish.
“The creation of a level playing field is important for the Namibian fishing industry to properly compete internationally. If some rights or quotas for particular companies or individuals are more benefiting than similar ones without a clear reason, we will continue killing each other locally while losing our competitive edge abroad.
“Namibia must compete against other fish producing nations to bring the maximum returns to our country and all stakeholders must benefit from this,” Mr Amukwa said.
He praised the ministry for involving stakeholders in the policy making process. He noted that the policy not only included the sustainability of the resource, but also the well-being of workers, employers, clients, customers and markets - both local and international.
He said this was important for the industry's stability and a clear legal framework for sustainability and growth, especially in terms of the large investments required to create a sound land-based industry.
Mr Esau was earlier this year accused of misusing power when it comes to the allocation of rights and quotas. Critics claimed that he was reducing allocations of bigger companies by giving them to more right holders-some of whom do not even have any investments or interests in the industry.
Part of the draft policy reads that the minister shall gazette conditions and procedures required in granting each type of fishing right. Such conditions will include monitoring and performance of every right at least once every three years, based on transparent criteria.
“Non-performing rights may be cancelled, or sanctioned, as the minister may determine,” the policy reads.
It also states that rights held by a holder who is not fishing directly “but rather fishes using other fishing agents in which they have no shares, shall not be renewed, and may be subjected to a reduced duration, as the minister determines”.
As for quota allocations, the policy says the amount allocated may vary “depending on performance” of right holders against “pre-determined criteria which shall include investment, employment, value addition and socio-economic factors”.
It also says that quota allocations will be given to right holders who create “the highest number of high quality jobs” per metric tonne of fish landed.
The policy, which is expected to become law before mid-2016 according to Mr Esau, also covers issues on sustainable harvesting of stocks; monitoring, control and surveillance; TAC; aquaculture development; socio-economic considerations; value-addition and standards compliance; marketing, investments and joint ventures; financing and domestic food security.
Namibia has one of the leading fisheries sectors in the world with annual marine landings of about 550 000 tonnes worth about N$7 billion. The country's fisheries sector ranks third in Africa and 30th globally. The industry is the third largest contributor of the nation's GDP.