Namibia Criticized for Monopolizing its Mackerel Industry

(Bloomberg) -- Namibia’s decision to award the lion’s share of the country’s allocation of horse mackerel to the state-owned fishing company and an Angolan partner, has drawn criticism for flouting a commitment to localize the industry and tender requirements.

Fisheries Minister Bernard Esau granted the National Fishing Corp. of Namibia 16 percent of the country’s total allowable catch of 35,000 metric tons of the fish for 15 years in a deal that is potentially worth N$1.8 billion ($143 million). The fisheries sector is Namibia’s third-biggest contributor to gross domestic product, after mining and agriculture.

Fishcor, as the company is known, is partnering with African Selection Trust SA of Angola to establish a N$350 million processing plant at the coastal town of Walvis Bay. The decision has drawn criticism for excluding local firms, while the Namibian newspaper reported that the agreement was not put on public tender as required for state-owned companies. Namsov Fishing Enterprise, a unit of Bidvest Namibia, recently announced plans to close operations after Esau slashed its quota.

Fishcor has defended Esau’s decision, saying the quota size was in line with the investment in the processing plant, which is scheduled for completion in September. “I don’t understand why we would be asked to come up with a factory that can process 70,000 to 80,000 tonnes and not have at least a sustainable guaranteed quota,” Fishcor Chief Executive Officer Mike Nghipunya said by phone Tuesday.

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