WINDHOEK, 31 MAY – The Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) has criticised the manner in which the fishing industry is managed and called on the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources to be more inclusive in the issuing of fishing rights.
In a media statement on Wednesday, PDM Parliamentarian, Jennifer van den Heever, on behalf of the official opposition party, said the fishing industry only benefits the rich and well-connected politicians and public officials.
She said the misuse of Namibia’s marine resources come at the expense of the masses and currently disadvantaged people, further slamming the application criteria of the newly-issued public call to apply for fishing rights.
“The criteria are very exclusive and hardly consider the poor, disabled people or the currently disadvantaged people, evidenced by the requirement of registered companies for the allocation of quotas,” she said.
Van den Heever added that the quotas “mostly play into the hands of ‘fishmonger’ lawmakers with big companies in good standing and in partnership with foreigners with enough and good equipment for fishing”.
The party further accused the minister of failing to mention SMEs in his application criteria, that could do with uplifting of livelihoods, business opportunities and income generation from receiving fishing quotas. This would be helpful since the SME Bank is no longer available to help SMEs to develop, it said.
PDM also said fishing quota rights were mainly dominated by the same businesses since first issuance in 1992 and therefore, benefit only certain members of the society due to its duration of more than 15 years.
“The PDM cannot help but question why the rights are allocated for such a long time. Many of these companies that have held fishing rights since independence are still beneficiaries of those same fishing rights,” it wrote.
The party called for change in the duration to give other individuals the opportunity to also benefit from Namibia’s natural resources and share the country’s wealth.
It however applauded the minister, Bernhardt Esau, for announcing that fishing rights beneficiaries will be named on a public online portal, saying this would ensure transparency.
It further proposed that the allocations be conducted in an open and inclusive manner involving different stakeholders, instead of only the minister and certain officials.
Application for 96 fishing rights in nine fishery species, open to all Namibians, was announced by Esau on Tuesday.