Etosha Fishing takes knock from three-year pilchard ban – 19 workers join unemployment queue
The three-year ban on pilchard catches imposed in 2018 has forced Etosha Fishing Corporation to sell all three of its purse seine vessels, resulting in the retrenchment of 19 net workers.
The company released a statement this week stating that the deployment of the Prowess, Advance and Morgenster vessels to neighbouring Angola and other foreign fishing grounds, was an effort to sustain jobs.
“Low catch rates have compounded the financial burden of operating our vessels in foreign waters, which has left the company with no other choice but to sell all our purse seine vessels. This means that we are no longer in a position to provide employment to the crew of these vessels,” Nezette Beukes, Acting Managing Director of Etosha Fishing said.
According to Beukes, negotiations with the Namibian Seamen and Allied Workers Union, officially started in January this year and a formal notification was also issued to the Office of the Labour Commissioner.
“Affected staff members were initially informed of possible retrenchments as early as December 2018. We wanted to make sure that our employees are well informed from the start of the process to avoid any uncertainty and to ensure transparency throughout the process,” Beukes added.
Workers Union Vice President, Epson Kavekuire stressed that as a union, they oppose any job losses, adding however, Etosha Fishing is caught in a difficult position.
The company currently employs 44 permanent and close to 550 seasonal staff at its cannery.
Meanwhile, Etosha Fishing still operates one vessel, the Iona, which was converted to a refrigerated seawater vessel at a substantial cost in 2018 to be able to fish in local waters, landing horse mackerel fresh for processing at its cannery in Walvis Bay.