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‘Fishermen petitions fuelled by political opportunism’

Written by on May 27, 2024

Fisheries and marine resources minister Derek Klazen says the Employment Redress Programme Government (Gerp) has encountered several challenges, with some being genuine, while others appear to be influenced by political opportunism, personal gratification and other interests.

He issued a statement while at a meeting with fishermen from the Iyaloo Women Investment Group and Walu Fishing Investments at Walvis Bay yesterday.

The meeting aimed to engage in and solve issues faced by the fishermen, who are part of Gerp.

He said the ministries of fisheries and of labour, Industrial are reliable partners and initiators of the programme established to provide dignity and sustenance to the affected ex-fishermen.

The ministries were directed by Cabinet to secure full-time and permanent employment of specifically former Namsov Fishing employees and those who lost their employment within the fishing industry in 2015.

It led to the absorption of about 2 483 ex-fishermen into the hake and horse mackerel subsectors through Gerp.

Five hundred and fifty former fishermen were employed in the horse mackerel sub-sector, while another 1 933 ex-fishermen were in the hake subsector, against a tonnage of 18,370MT of hake and 16 500MT of horse mackerel.

Klazen said these are former fishermen who were working aboard fishing vessels at sea and that their jobs as fishermen were lost for reasons that are widely known.

“I am mentioning this as an important clarification against growing misleading utterances falsely assuring all ex-fishermen jobs at sea. It is simply not possible to re-employ all ex-fishermen aboard fishing vessels because their previous jobs aboard fishing vessels have been taken over by other Namibians following their separation from their previous employers.” he added. Klazen said it was part of the reason why most of the employees under Gerp do not all have physical work while continuing to receive a monthly salary outside the premises of their respective employers.

Labour minister Utoni Nujoma says the country has limited fish resources, but that the government is trying its best to accommodate everyone.

“We are here to have a constructive engagement and listen to what solutions you have. You should also be aware that we have limited fishing resources. The fish is gradually declining. Many trawlers came from different countries after independence to fish, and the pilchard industry is completely dead. The minister listens to the scientists when they do the assessment. They have told us that the resource is declining. The ministry has a limited quota available and it must be divided among the right holders to employ our people.” he says.

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