Heading into a new direction

Rudi Bowe

Tunacor Group recently celebrated the ground-breaking of its new horse mackerel land-based factory at Walvis Bay.

Horse mackerel is traditionally caught and frozen at sea, but the new factory will allow Tunacor Group to catch the fish at sea and process it on land in wet fish format.The factory will among others boast a 4 000 m² solar panel roof that will generate electricity for the factory’s processing operations.The new factory will create an additional 250 jobs, increasing the total jobs at Tuna-cor Group to 2 500 people. This will make Tunacor the single  biggest employer in the fisheries sector.

The new horse mackerel processing facility will be completed and ready for production by February 2020. “This is a great initiative by Tunacor Group Ltd. and your associated right holders, namely: Diaz Fishing, Spoto Fishing, Atlantic Harvesters of Namibia, Hefdy Group of Companies and Namibia Seaweed Processors”, Fisheries Minister Bernard Esau said at the opening that took place on 12 July. “I encourage you to undertake this initiative in a timely manner – and finalise it without delay because we need the new jobs and the value addition capacity that comes with it”, added Esau. Minister Esau since his appointment is a driving force for value adding to horse mackerel.

Value adding creates jobs, increases the fish’s value and boosts export values.

Esau was told by many in the fishing industry that it is impossible to add meaningful value to horse mackerel. Traditionally the fish were exported whole frozen to markets in Africa as the main source of protein. It was regarded a low value fish.

“I was convinced back then, as I am now, that continuing to export our horse mackerel frozen on board freezer vessels mean we would never unlock employment potential in this sector – and this was simply unacceptable to me” Esau told the audience at the opening.

The fisheries sector needs jobs. Jobs for youth and jobs for women in particular. Esau expressed his satisfaction for the way in which fisheries stakeholders came on-board to add value to horse mackerel. Horse mackerel products have been entering the market. From head and gutted to fillets and canned horse mackerel.

The Minister expressed resolve that by 2022 a total of 70 % of the total horse mackerel TAC (250 mt per annum) would be for value adding in shore-based facilities only.

Of the total of 16 500 direct jobs currently in the fisheries sector, hake creates about 10 000 jobs. Horse mackerel creates less than 4 000 jobs, but value adding on shore can change this picture for the better.

“This is an unacceptable situation, considering horse mackerel is our largest fishery by volume. It has about the same value in monetary terms when compared with the hake fishery”, the Minister further explained.

The higher number of jobs in the hake sub-sector is as a result of the 70/30 policy, and the Ministry are now ever more determined to implement the same Policy in the horse mackerel sub-sector.

The Minister encouraged all right holders in all fisheries to shift paradigms to value addition.

Esau added: “It will indeed be difficult for right holders, who are not organised for value addition, to meet the criteria for the score-cards. Once gazetted and thereby law, an inadequate performance on the score-card could cost you dearly in terms of quota allocations among others.

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