A major step forward for the smaller sub-sectors in the fishing industry was witnessed earlier in November when Walvis Bay fishing company, Amswohl Fishing officially opened its new high-tech red spider crab processing facility in a joint venture with the renowned Japanese fishing company, Aiyo.
The crab which is caught by Amswohl Fishing is processed and packed in the new facility and exported to Japan where it is a popular delicacy. It is widely used in Sushi dishes but it is also served whole as real crab sticks, not the imitation, artificially coloured crab sticks with which most consumers are familiar.
Amswohl Fishing is a company started in 2001 by Annemarie Wohler and her late husband.
Amstai is the JV company between Amswohl Fishing and Taiyo. Today Annemarie Wohler is the managing director of Amswohl Fishing and a director of Amstai. Her daughter, Olivia Allen is the managing director of Amstai,
Speaking at the inauguration, Mrs Wohler quipped, “I want to take you all back to 2001 when my late husband initiated the formation of Amswohl Fishing, which led to the Joint Venture formation of Amstai, along with world- renowned partner Taiyo, through their local representation Taiyo Namibia.”
Quoting her husband, she said in Afrikaans, “ons het al met bees gewerk en bok gewerk. Kom ons probeer werk dan bietjie met diere van die see. (We have worked with cattle and goats, why do we not try the animals of the sea.) Previously, the couple was involved in farming.
She said it required a lot of hard work to get the fishing right awarded and she and her husband faced a mountain of challenges in the beginning. For instance, in their early days circumstances forced the substantial decrease of the catchable tonnage, which was a shock to their business.
“But still we fought on and persevered and continued to successfully fulfil our obligations to our staff, the government and the beneficiaries of our various projects” she said.
Describing the circumstances that lead to the partnership with Taiyo, she said “we have been encouraged on numerous occasions to more firmly establish ourselves as the Previously Disadvantaged partner through further investment, through part-ownership in the vessel initially, and now ultimately through this very tangible investment you see here today.”
Annemarie used the opening ceremony to launch an appeal to the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources for the allocation of a larger quota. “We now need that increased tonnage to work towards this factory becoming a sustainable economic contributor to this coastal town” she said.
On commercial partnerships, she said “This JV partnership of ours has been quite diverse. For the one partner it has been purely commercial, and for us, the previously disadvantaged partner it has to a large extent been for subsistence. When my husband passed away in 2009, I was truly thrown into the deep end as a woman especially in this tough industry. I was pillared by the strength of our Heavenly Father, without whom nothing is possible.”
Thanking the fisheries ministry, her supporting children and other special individuals, Mrs Wohler concluded “this inauguration represents for us, the fruition of one of our dreams and we trust that we will only go from strength to strength.”