Govt ponders fishing quota auction decision …as committee drags its feet

Andrew Kathindi

Government is pondering its next move with regards to the auctioning of its governmental fishing quotas after a paltry return and disorganized process in the previous effort held in August last year.

This comes after the technical committee, which was set up by Finance Minister Iipumbu Shiimi, to guide the government on the possibility of future auctions, is still to offer its recommendation. The committee has not presented its findings nearly a month after the start of the horse mackerel season and three months after the start of the hake fishing season.

“The technical committee is still finalizing the plan for the auction. Consultations are still ongoing. After which, the committee will report to the next structure,” Finance Ministry Spokesperson Tonateni Shidhudhu told Windhoek Observer.

The ministry of finance, which spearheads the technical committee, is waiting for the body to recommend whether to proceed with another auction. This delay comes after the fisheries ministry last year hinted that it may discontinue the auctions system after the poor revenues from the first one.

“The technical committee will make the required recommendations to the Ministry after their meeting that will determine whether an auction will take place,” said Shidhudhu.

The technical committee was set up in October last year prior to the current 2021 hake and horse mackerel seasons. However, at 25 days into the New Year, the finance ministry Spokesperson maintains that the delays will not affect the catching period for potential bidders.

“The harvesting period will not be affected as the fishing seasons for the following species is as follows: Horse Mackerel is from 1 January – 31 December. Hake is from 1st November – 30 September. Monk is from 1 May – 30 April.”

Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources Executive Director Annely Haiphene, however, told Windhoek Observer that the technical committee has not completed many of its objectives yet.

“So far there’s no update. Nothing much has happened. The technical committee has not really started to do anything because the fishing season has just started for horse mackerel and hake. Only once the technical committee has come up with the guidelines and depending upon whatever instructions we receive, we may then start the auction process.”

She added, “If government is still going to auction, then maybe it should be done earlier to avoid doing it late. There are concerns from the industry that there would be reduced time to catch whatever they have bid for. The administrative process takes time.”

Last year the joint ministries of finance and fisheries auction only managed to secure N$8.4 million from an initial N$627.9 million worth of bids, after successful bidders failed to pay the amounts they announced.

According to government statements, the auction was meant to raise funds for state coffers and to fight COVID-19.

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