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Namibia Opens Fresh Round of Bidding for 600 MT of Monkfish

The Namibian government has opened a fresh round of bidding on its quota of monkfish, with officials putting 600 metric tons (MT) up for sale to raise revenue that would go toward financing the country’s federal budget – despite the mixed performance of its fishing quota auction program since it was implemented three years ago.

Namibia introduced its fishing quota auction scheme in 2020 shortly after the infamous cash-for-quota corruption case, popularly known as the “Fishrot” scandal – that occurred between 2014 and 2019  – became publicized.

The scandal involved several Namibian government officials allegedly receiving millions of dollars in payoffs from Icelandic fish-processing company Samherji in exchange for fishing rights initially allocated to Namibia’s state-owned fisheries company, the National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (FISHCOR).

After the emergence of the scandal, the Namibian government instituted what it deemed to be a more transparent process in the quota auction program, which specifies that local operating companies are entitled to 40 percent of sold government quotas.

However, since 2020, the program has faltered as the government continues to struggle to  regain the confidence of seafood industry investors.

During the first auction in August 2020, just 1.3 percent of government-held fishing rights and quotas were sold, with the Namibian Ministry of Fisheries and Mineral Resources attributing the dismal performance to the participation of bidders who were not “necessarily existing in the fishing industry with most, if not all, not owning vessels.”

“In the future, punitive measures will be introduced including requirements for payment guarantees or bid securities before participation in the auction,” Finance Minister Iipumbu Shiimi said at the time.

The government also ascribed the poor performance to short timelines associated with payments and for harvesting the quota.

Learning from previous mistakes, Namibia’s subsequent auctions have fared better. In 2021, the country held six auctions for government-held fishing quotas, generating NAD 567 million (USD 29.9 million, EUR 27.8 million) for the country’s exchequer.

“Such an outcome confirms auctioning as a good mechanism to facilitate price discovery in the sector and allocate natural resources to the market,” Shiimi and Namibian Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Derek Klazen said in a joint statement at the time.

This most recent round of monkfish bidding is the second auction conducted by the Namibian government this year, following the March 2023 horse mackerel sale of 28,500 MT that raised NAD 52.3 million (USD 2.76 million, EUR 2.57 million) for the country’s treasury.