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Navigating Uncharted Waters: Government’s Quota Allocation Sparks Concerns in Namibia’s Fishing Industry.

In a move that has sent ripples through Namibia’s fishing industry, the Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations (CNFA) has sounded the alarm over the government’s increasing dominance in allocating fishing quotas. The CNFA’s concerns center around the repercussions this shift holds for private sector stakeholders. The government’s amplified quota allocation raises a chorus of uncertainties for rights holders, casting a shadow over their investments and job security.

A Parallel Quota Industry Emerges: Matti Amukwa, the CNFA’s chairperson, warns that the tide of change is turning into a parallel industry of its own. The government, once limited by the Marine Resource Act to intervene only during emergencies, has emerged as the largest quota holder. The jarring transformation from a sporadic intervention to routine allocation has left the industry puzzled and anxious. The staggering truth is that this change has bestowed upon the government the status of the largest quota holder without shouldering the obligations that private sector rights holders are bound by, such as generating employment and adding value.

The Call for Accountability and Fairness: Amukwa’s call for the swift implementation of a scorecard system to evaluate rights holders’ performance and allocate quotas accordingly resonates strongly. He stresses that the Marine Resource Act’s transparency, or lack thereof, requires no further elaboration on governmental objectives. In a poignant comparison, Amukwa raises the question of whether other resources are allocated with such disregard for current investors as is happening in the fishing sector. The plea for the Ministry to engage further in dialogue on this issue is clear.

Government’s Defense and Disputed Fairness: The government counters the CNFA’s concerns by justifying its decision to allocate quotas for governmental objectives, citing socio-economic, cultural, and other public interest pursuits. While advocating for equity in fishery resource valuation, the government’s approach has come under fire for lacking transparency and fairness. The CNFA contends that the auctioning process, intended to ensure equitable value, is marred by inconsistencies and opacity.

Economic Impact and the Plea for Rethinking: Namibia’s fishing industry has scaled unprecedented heights, boasting historic export earnings that surged to N$1.1 billion in May of the current year from N$697 million in May 2022. While the sector remains a significant contributor to the nation’s economy, the CNFA’s concerns warrant attention. The fishing industry’s contribution of 12.5% to total exports in 2022 underscores its economic significance, intensifying the need for safeguarding stakeholders’ interests.

Namibia’s fishing industry stands at a crossroads as the government’s increasing dominance in quota allocation leaves stakeholders grappling with uncertainty. The CNFA’s plea for dialogue and accountability reverberates throughout the industry. As export earnings soar and economic stakes amplify, the time has come for a balanced approach that addresses the concerns of both the government and private sector rights holders. Only through transparent dialogue and a commitment to fairness can Namibia’s fishing industry continue to thrive while preserving its ecosystem and safeguarding the livelihoods it sustains.

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