Fishing quota usage fee ‘fixing’ triggers investigation

The Namibian Competition Commission (NaCC) has initiated an investigation against various fishing vessel owners and operators, in terms of Section 33(3) of the Competition Act No. 2 of 2003 (the Act), for alleged fixing of quota usage fees that are paid to fishing rights holders.

The NaCC received information, on the 18th of August 2023 and 22nd of September 2023, respectively, alleging possible collusion amongst various vessel owners and operators in the Namibian fishing industry. The collusion is allegedly in the form of fixing fishing quota usage fees that are paid to fishing rights holders when they enter into quota usage agreements with the vessel owners/operators.

“These fishing rights holders do not own vessels and as such sell their allocated fishing quotas to the vessel owners and operators at a fee. The operators are alleged to offer the fishing rights holders the same price and refuse to negotiate the fees when the fishing rights holders raise concerns regarding the offered quota usage fee,” the Commission said.

The NaCC is informed that fishing rights holders receive annual quotas from the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources which they are required to utilize fully by the end of each fishing season. This necessitates those that have no vessels to approach the vessel owners and operators, and enter into quota usage agreements, for the latter to utilize the allocated quotas on their behalf.

“However, these owners and operators prioritize harvesting their own quotas and only thereafter endeavour to harvest the fishing rights holders’ quotas. At this juncture, it is alleged that fishing rights holders have no choice, but to agree to any quota usage fees that the vessel owners and operators are offering, also taking into consideration that, the vessel owners and operators also have access to their own fishing quotas as well as those of National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (“FISHCOR”) & Government objective quotas,” added the Commission.

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