Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Windhoek/Cape Town — Africa’s largest fishing company, Oceana Group, faces a battle to hold onto its fishing rights in Namibia after the government said listed firms would no longer be awarded quotas.

Bidvest Namibia, which is listed on Namibia’s stock exchange, could also lose its local fishing rights after the policy shift, outlined in a government document reviewed by Reuters on Wednesday.

Oceana, which is listed on South African and Namibian exchanges and also operates in Angola and the US, said it hoped its investments in Namibia would be safe as they were structured to include local shareholders.

Bidvest Namibia CEO Sebby Kankondi did not respond to a request for comment.

Namibia Fisheries Minister Bernhardt Esau said the government wanted to bar listed firms from applying for fishing rights in the country because it could not easily monitor whether they were owned by Namibian citizens, as required by law. "Ownership, and hence citizenship, in a company listed on a stock exchange changes by the hour, hence this legal requirement cannot be met by listed companies," he said.

Zaida Adams, an investor relations executive at Oceana, said the company’s Namibian partners would apply for fishing rights and therefore the government’s new approach was not a major risk.