Esau seeks quota allocation transparency
The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernhardt Esau, says his ministry is working on improving the current fishing quota allocation system, by making it more transparent, accountable and predictable.
This comes as his ministry is finalising the criteria to be used in the allocation of fishing quotas, based on the performance of individual right holders.
“The assigning of weights to the criteria, as outlined, is not a technical process, but a policy issue. I will make a decision, in consultation with government on this matter, at the right time and inform the industry accordingly. Gazetting will follow immediately thereafter,” he told a fishing sector stakeholders meeting this week.
He said the lack of an evaluation criterion should not deter right holders from providing the prerequisite information regarding their operations, including employment figures.
“The fact that there are no weights attached to the criteria at this stage, does not impede the requirement for right holders to submit data on criteria, such as employment, just as you are all currently doing. I am aware of the need for assigning the weights and I will expedite the process. The outcome of the consultations of this meeting will determine how soon this matter can be concluded,” the fisheries minister said.
He warned that his ministry will take punitive measures against right holders, who are found to have provided false or incomplete information regarding their fishing operations.
“Our desire to increase transparency and accountability in the fishing quota allocation system requires a great degree of honesty from all of us, particularly in terms of integrity of data to be provided by right holders in this process. I have instructed my officials to ensure that there are sufficient penalties, ranging from loss of proportions of quotas, to the complete denial of quotas to right holders, who deliberately provide wrong information or omit vital information in the forms provided,” Esau said.
He said he was considering making public, information collected from right holders regarding their operations, thereby increasing transparency in the operations of the sector.
“In this way, right holders within similar fisheries will make sure that those who score high points, and hence are allocated more quotas, are indeed deserving of such amounts,” the minister said.
Esau said inclusivity in the fishing sector was key, in terms of eradicating poverty and reducing unemployment in the country, with figures from the ministry showing that 15,000 employees were on the payroll of the 358 right holders.
“It is true we cannot give all Namibians fishing rights and quotas, or even provide employment to all Namibians in the fishing sector, but it is also true that we can increase inclusivity in the fisheries sector by encouraging more social inclusivity into existing rights and enhancing job creation, especially through value addition, and ensuring those who are privileged to be allocated fishing rights pay their fair share of resource rent for distribution to the rest of the economy,” he said.
“We encourage right holders to include workers as equity participants in their companies, and to adopt the principle of co-determination in the management of the fishing companies, and share in the profits or losses. Those who do so will be rewarded with increased quotas.”
The minister said he will soon start implementing recommendations of the Cabinet commission study on fishing quotas, which proposed that the management of the sector be financed by the sector itself, as part of ministry cost-cutting measures.
“I am committed to ensure that all official services, which are directly linked to facilitating the industry, are offered at the cost of industry. Such activities range from the issuance of control forms, to the setting of the total allowable catch and surveillance activities. As usual, we will follow due process in the implementation of these measures, including consultations, especially through the Marine Resources Advisory Council,” he added.