14 Dec 2017 08:20am
WALVIS BAY, 14 DEC (NAMPA) The only hope to save jobs in the pilchard industry is by allocating horse mackerel quotas to United Fishing Enterprises and Etosha Fishing companies.
This was said by the Chairperson of the Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations, Matti Amukwa, and the president of the Namibia Seamen and Allied Workers Union, Paulus Hango on Wednesday.
The two companies own fishing rights for pilchard, the fishing of which was barred for the next three years to allow the stock to recover in an announcement made by Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Tjekero Tweya on Tuesday.
Approached for comment on Wednesday, Amukwa said the best solution would be to allocate horse mackerel quotas to the two companies so that workers can continue working.
Another suggestion is that the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) arranges with other horse mackerel right holders who do not process, for their catches to be processed at United and Etosha Fishing.
Some of the horse mackerel right holders are Namsov Fishing, Kuiseb Fishing and Gendev which do not have land processing factories.
The processing factory at United Fishing closed last year due to low catches, but Etosha managed to sustain its operations by importing pilchard from Morocco, though still had to retrench some workers.
As such, more than 3 000 employees from the two companies lost their jobs since last year.
Amukwa said it is not clear whether the stock will recover in the next three years and that if it did not, the jobs would remain at risk.
Also adding his voice to the matter, Hango said horse mackerel canning is the solution.
He however said it could be difficult for fisheries minister, Bernhardt Esau to give such quotas to companies who do not have rights, considering that the public and right holders could object.
I personally feel for the people who lost their jobs and who might follow if this situation is not addressed. Our industry is supposed to create jobs, not to retrench, Hango said.
About 600 seasonal and 200 permanent workers are currently employed at United and Etosha Fishing.
Also speaking to the media on Wednesday, Managing Director of Etosha Fishing, Pieter Greeff said the company will continue to import fish from Morocco and that there would be no job losses next year.
Greeff admitted that there will be no profit as the company will only be paying salaries and other operational costs to stay afloat while monitoring the situation.