Matti Amukwa-Hake Association President jaunty

By By Michael Tambo
September 2011

Armed with 17 years experience in the fishing industry, Namibian Hake Association board Chairperson, Matti Amukwa, is a different marine breed.

As President of Hake Association, he hopes to establish mutual understanding amongst the companies in the association so that they have a shared sense of purpose and ownership of resources.

“I hope that we become an association that can truly discuss common industrial goals which should not be in direct conflict with any individual company’s competitive goals.

“By the end of my term, I would like to see a more competitive and fair Industry where the current legislation and policies are applied equally to all the role players.

“This would be crucial for long term sustainability of the hake sector and also crucial for our capacity to generate economic and social profits in the future,” says Amukwa.

But Amukwa’s reign faces greater challenges as most individual companies within the hake association are going through economic difficulties, shortage of quotas, labour unrest and operational inefficiencies.

“One thing is certain and worth mentioning, the members related to land based factories are facing more challenges and complications than those related only to freezer operations. Currently, there is an existing 70/30 policy meaning that 70% of the Hake Quota must be wet (land based) and 30% can be caught freezer (sea based).

“Although the Freezer Quota is much more profitable to operate, the wet (land based) generates more employment and benefits to the Namibian economy. The problem is that the individual right holders do not receive a 70/30 quota; many receive only wet, others 90/10 or 80/20 and a few privileged receive 0/100, which means they can catch their quota as freezer. This clearly discriminatory and unfair application of the 70/30 policy is the root of much instability, division and lack of competitiveness in our industry,” he adds.

Amukwa is impressed with the performance of the fishing industry, which he says is benefiting the economies of Swakopmund and Walvis Bay in terms of activities generated such as technical repairs, spare parts, food supplies, equipment, safety clothing, municipal services and taxes, fisheries’ observers, maintenance, security and logistics.

“Our industry represents 70% of the total fishing sector. The hake fishery employs 9 000 out of a total of 13 000 direct employees in the fishing sector. There are about 10 land based factories in Walvis Bay and Lüderitz and our fleet is more than 70 vessels.

“There are studies to confirm that for each direct employee there are four indirect employees created by the fishing industry, therefore, we can safely assume that the hake industry supports about 45 000 people and their families.”

Amukwa complements Government efforts in protecting the fishing industry but adds that there is need for the Government to involve the stakeholders within the industry in the crafting of policies in order for the policies to be effective.

“Our Government has done a great job in terms of policies related to the management and sustainability of the fishing ground. However, the policies related to the distribution of that resource and to the interaction with the industry are still very open to discretion and even some of them have not yet been properly implemented. This creates uncertainty, infighting and inefficiencies in the Industry as the companies lose on the important issues like competing successfully in the International markets.”

The association was inaugurated in 1992 to protect and further the interests of the Namibian Hake Industry, provide a forum for collaboration and discussion between members, negotiate with all Government departments on behalf of the entire hake industry and to encourage rational fishing by its members by pursuing practices in line with fisheries conservation concepts.

Born in July 1968 in Walvis Bay, Matti Amukwa moved to Etiliasa, in Omusati, where he completed his secondary education and his ambition was not to work in the fishing industry but to become a medical doctor.

After completion of his Grade 12 in 1986, Amukwa started working for the Government of Oshiwambo in the Administration Department of Education as a Clerk, a position he held until 1991 when he went to study for a National Diploma in Public Administration and Communication Science.

His other qualifications are International Diploma in Business Administrations/Management, International Diploma in Business Economics and Commerce, International Diploma in Advertising and Public Relations and an Master of Business Administration (MBA).

In 1994, a friend, Ananias Mariten, the owner of Empire Fishing approached and coerced him to join a fishing company which had been accorded some fishing rights by the Government and prolonged cajoling.

Amukwa moved from Windhoek to settle in Walvis Bay,

“We decided that we must know the industry from the catching of fish to the market so I started from fishing at sea, catching and packing the fish.” says Amukwa

He had to start from scratch to learn all the stages involved from the time the fish is caught until the fish is send to the market.

From a Factory Supervisor, Assistant Floor Manager, Quality Control Inspector and Quality Control Manager, to now, President of the Hake Association of Namibia, Amukwa’s presence in the industry is nature’s call. PF