The days when fishing companies could dump unwanted catches at sea with impunity could become a thing of the past.
On Wednesday the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernard Esau, warned fishing companies that dumping fish is an illegal practice that could see them lose their fishing rights. Esau who was unequivocal in condemning the dumping of fish in Namibian waters, warned the culprits saying they would have their fishing rights revoked if they persist with the practice.
Esau who was in a no-nonsense mood made the remarks during a consultative meeting convened on Wednesday with the Midwater Trawlers Association at Walvis Bay. He cited an incident in 2008 when firm action was taken against a company that dumped fish in Namibian waters and said that similar action could be taken against any guilty party.
Responding to media reports about a Chinese company, which was apparently fined a mere N$1 200 recently for dumping fish in Namibian waters, the minister said the fine would be revoked. “A fully fledged investigation will be launched into the incident and the guilty parties will be fined accordingly,” he assured the media.
Esau said such behaviour cannot and will not be tolerated anymore since the country is highly rated due to its sound fisheries management regime. “We cannot afford to compromise the country’s image at all. Those companies that are dumping fish at sea, we will consider their rights and quotas in terms of suspension, cancellation, downgrading and eventually allow their rights to expire. In addition, stern measures will be taken against those operators,” he said.
He also expressed concern over foreign flagged vessels operating in the country and urged local fishing right holders to invest in trawlers. “Since 1991, all vessels fishing in the Namibian mid-water industry are foreign flagged vessels. This is not promoting the Namibianization of the sector at large. We need to discuss this issue at length and encourage companies to get into the culture of owning vessels,” said the minister.
Esau also threatened to cancel the fishing rights of joint venture companies (JVCs) fighting each other. He lamented the fact it has become the norm for joint ventures to withhold quotas from each other or fight over quotas and even change shareholding structures without informing each other. “Information of day to day operations within joint ventures is also not shared with each other. Some shareholders are trying to marginalize the ones that are already marginalized. I will not entertain such behaviour and will cancel your rights. We cannot tolerate people who are selfish,” thundered Esau.
“The culture of not sharing information with partners is not welcome, as this creates tension and brings about mistrust. This, therefore, concerns government.” He said from now on joint ventures would be screened to see if they lived up to the expectations of the government and to ascertain whether they will qualify for the reserve quota allocation of 80 000 tonnes for horse-mackerel.