Fishot: Diverted quotas, 1 000 lost jobs

An Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) report on the human suffering brought about by the Fishrot corruption scandal has highlighted the 1 000 job losses at Namsov Fishing Enterprises, which received either no horse mackerel quotas or heavily reduced quotas from 2014 onwards.

“At least 1 000 workers lost their jobs after quotas were diverted away from Namsov. Hence, a number of the workers interviewed for this report were employed by Namsov.

“In 2018, Namsov became a subsidiary of another fishing company, Tunacor.

“It is alleged that the quotas that were given to the state-owned Fishcor rather than Namsov were then passed on to [Icelandic company] Samherji in exchange for bribes,” the report notes.

In late 2014, Namsov and Atlantic Harvesters of Namibia Limited, both at the time wholly owned subsidiaries of Bidvest Namibia Fisheries, challenged their loss of quotas and the apparent diversion of allocations to Fishcor.

In December 2014, judge Shafimana Ueitele ruled that the allocation of horse mackerel quotas to Fishcor and two other fishing associations “was unlawful and irregular’’, notes the IPPR report.

However, Ueitele decided not to set aside the allocations to Fishcor, the Namibian Large Pelagic and Hake Longlining Association and the Small Pelagic Fishing Association of Namibia.

The failure to set aside the quota allocations meant the ruling was largely a symbolic one.

After Namsov’s partially successful legal challenge, the minister sought to amend the Marine Resources Act 2000, specifically the sections on the issuance of quotas, to give more power and discretion to the then minister Bernhard Esau, who is awaiting trial in connection with the Fishrot scandal.

In August 2015, the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) criticised the proposed changes to the Marine Resources Act and warned that it gave too much power to the minister.

The NCCI called for transparency around the allocation of fishing quotas and was in favour of publicly publishing and gazetting quotas awarded by the fisheries ministry.

Nevertheless, the amendments were passed by parliament and were signed into law. Subsequently, more and more quotas were directed towards Fishcor.

In December 2019, further job losses ensued after the police impounded the fishing vessel, Heinaste, owned by Esja Seafood Limited, a Samherji subsidiary.

Samherji then ceased to operate, leading to other fisheries workers losing their jobs on vessels linked to the Icelandic company.

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