Namibia
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Namsov nearly stops horse mackerel fishing, processing

An intervention by the Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations (CNFA) has prevented Namsov Fishing, a subsidiary of Tunacor Fishing, from halting its fishing operations for horse mackerel freezer and discontinuing horse mackerel processing.

In a letter seen by The Namibian, addressed to quota holders who sold their quotas to the company, chief executive Gerrie Hough said the company’s decision came as a result of new instructions related to the 200m isobath line.

However, the CNFA and the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources on Monday held a meeting to resolve the matter. The confederation’s chairperson, Matti Amukwa, on Tuesday said no company has closed and Namsov will continue as normal.

“The ministry is not going to implement the new regulations. They have withdrawn it, and the industry will continue to operate as usual,” he said.

Ministry of fisheries spokesperson Uaripi Katjiukua says there are no new regulations.

She says the communication to the industry was to rectify information, because some industry players had the wrong fishing ground map.
“The wrong map has not been there since 1997, as the Namsov managing director is implying. This was fixed, because they maybe had incorrect information, or they misunderstood the ministry,” she says.

Hough said in his letter the company had “taken the operational decision to cease fishing”.

“The mid-water trawl vessels will be at anchorage from today (20 June), and the land-based horse mackerel factory will discontinue horse mackerel processing by Friday, 23 June,” he said.

He requested quota holders to support, at the ministerial level, the return of the industry to the status quo, especially concerning the 200m isobath and natural contour line.

This request indicates that the company desires a return to its traditional fishing areas, where it has operated since 1997.

The decision to cease fishing operations and halt horse mackerel processing raises questions about the immediate and long-term consequences for Namsov Fishing’s employees and the broader fishing industry in Namibia.

However, Hough on Tuesday said: “The industry query has been amicably resolved via the CNFA and the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources. With minimal disruption, we continue fishing as normal.”

The CNFA has also voiced its concerns regarding the implications of new instructions related to the 200m isobath line.

Amukwa said one of the primary concerns is the complexity and confusion caused by the new instructions, which have left the fleets mystified and unsure of how to navigate the waters.

He said applying a straight line against the natural contour line, as has been done since 2004, now poses challenges. “At some points, we will be significantly shallower than the 200m restriction, and at some points, we will be completely outside up to 280m off the 200m line.

“The effect of application and compliance with this latest chart ‘C’ line will now have our vessels contravening the 200m depth restriction, leaving our captains in fear of being arrested if they follow that line,” he said.

JOB LOSSES

Namsov has notified the Namibian Food and Allied Workers Union (Nafau) of its intention to lay off employees at land-based operations.
Through Totus, a human resource company, Namsov cited restructuring as the reason for laying off employees.

“The reorganisation is critical, given the low and erratic nature of daily fishing for raw material outside the 200m isobath line.

“This is exacerbated by the high upfront cost of securing quotas and substantial increase in the cost of operations, including salaries, fuel, electricity, maintenance, packing and others, making the current operations unsustainable,” the company said.

However, in a meeting held last week, Namsov informed employees they would be deployed to Africa Personnel Services (APS). Levi Haimbodi, Nafau’s Walvis Bay branch organiser, questions Namsov’s intention to move employees to APS.

“It does not make sense to remove the employees from your payroll to put them on another company’s payroll and call it restructuring,” he says.
Nafau and its members will demonstrate at Tunacor Fisheries and the Office of the Labour Commissioner today and hand over a petition regarding the way Namsov is handling the termination of employment and its plan to transfer workers to APS.