The Governor’s pride

By By Michael Tambo
September 2011
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REGIONAL


Namibia’s fishing industry has grown over the years to occupy the second slot as export foreign currency earner after mining and is the third economic sector in terms of contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), placing the country in the same league as Norway and Canada.

Namibia ranks among the top 10 producers in the world in terms of the value of its catch ahead of the United Kingdom and Australia.

The country’s fishing industry is subdivided into two sectors, namely white fish and pelagic. Fishing of the white fish species, which comprises kingklip, hake, sole, monk and snoek, is done along the continental shelf, which stretches from the Kunene River in the north to the Orange River in the south.

The pelagic species on the other hand includes pilchard and horse mackerel found in shallow waters stretching from south of Walvis Bay to Cape Frio in the north. The total exploitable area is some 60,000 nautical square miles.

The Governor of Erongo region, Cleophas Mutjavikua is ecstatic about the performance of the fishing industry which he says is the key not only to the development of his region but is also contributing to the GDP and is creating employment in the region.

“The development of Erongo region is largely contributed by two industries, fisheries and mining. As a result, our public sector is expanding and we are currently building more schools and also working towards building a B class hospital for Swakopmund.

“The region is benefiting from the fishing companies’ social developments funds through their provision of education funds and classroom material for schools within the region,” he adds.

The Governor, who has served as a board member for Twafika Fishing Enterprises, the holders of a Monk Fishing right and the beneficiary of annual Monk quotas in partnership with Namsov Fishing Enterprises (Pvt) Limited says his pride is in the Monk fish which is very expensive and sold to prime markets in Italy is a significant foreign currency earner.

In order to consolidate fisheries in Erongo region, Mutjavikua says, “We have to make sure that we add value to our export products to be exported to earn foreign currency for the country”

The localisation policy was introduced to economically empower black Namibians to enter into this lucrative and former white dominated industry but as it stands not many blacks have entered the industry. The statistics in terms of local ownership of the industry still needs to improve.

“Namsov gave me a taste of the fishing industry. It is the bigger component that forms the greatest components in Namibia. I have served as a Director of Twafika Fishing Enterprises and was part of the Board for Bidvest Namibia, the empowerment component of Bidvest Namibia,” adds Mutjavikua.

Commenting on the implications of the now aborted new tax increase proposal in fisheries, Mutjavikua says this will have some devastating effects on most fishing companies.

“Any tax increase is not a good thing as it will put us outside competitive development. We are still recovering from the effects of the world economic crises and this entails that companies have to be given some space to recover from the damages brought about by the economic crises. The fishing Industry needs to be given ample time to recover and employ more people as a way of boosting the industry,” says Mutjavikua.

At the end of his term, the governor does not want to be remembered pictorially only, but through developmental projects he intends to bring in Erongo region during his term of office.

He says, “We are working as a team and our term of office will be remembered for the institutionalisation of Areva, Swakopmund Mining and Bannerman. In the fisheries, we would like to see that it is continuing to operate consistently.

“I also want to implement aqua-culture and marine aqua cultures in Walvis Bay as we already have some land ear marked for that. As the governor I also acknowledge the crucial role being played by service providers and their contribution towards the fishing industry.

“The fishing industry will not survive without the service providers. The Government is in full support of the service providers and is also encouraging locals to enter into the production so that we cannot import products such as tomatoes, which can be grown using fish emulsion, one of the effective and recommended fertilizers to use for the production of tomato plants.”

“Erongo region is prepared to contribute to the national pride. Namibia is a unitary state and everything we are doing is for the benefit of Namibians,” concludes Mutjavikua. PF