Namibian fishery representatives claim a 2014 reduction in the allocation of horse mackerel quotas for Namsov Fishing Enterprises led to the company's eventual bankruptcy, reported The Namibian.
The chairman of the Namibian Fisherman United Association, Mathew Lungameni, told The Namibian that 25 fishermen who lost their jobs died as a result of stress-related conditions and suicides. The reduced quota put two Namsov vessels and their crew out of work.
At the time of the decision -- which is now at the center of the ongoing cash-for-quotas scandal that has embroiled Icelandic fishing company Samherji -- Namsov officials wrote to President Hage Geingob, then prime minister, to ask him to intervene, claiming the reduced 5,908 metric tons that Esau allocated to them was "less than what [they] agreed."
The company requested Geingob to instruct the beneficiaries to make their allocation available to Namsov.
Namsov was later purchased by the Tunacor Group, after its financial performance went downhill following the reduced quota years ago.
Then-fisheries minister, Bernhard Esau, who is now on trial for allegedly taking kickbacks, ruled on the reduction and donated some of the fishing quota to Angola. He also allocated quota to the state-owned National Fishing Corporation of Namibia (Fishcor), which was later ruled illegal by the high court.
According to The Namibian, statements submitted by Samherji whistleblower Johannes Stefansson to Namibian authorities indicate that at the time Namsov was appealing to Geingob for its regular quota, N$5 million ($341,000/€307,000) was exchanged between Samherji-owned Mermaria Seafood and a company owned by James Hatuikulipi, who is also currently being charged for receiving kickbacks.
"This payment was to move things forward with the higher-level politicians in Namibia," Stefansson said.
Samherji and representatives from the Icelandic media have gone head-to-head on the impacts of the 2014 reallocation, with journalist Helgi Seljan claiming Samherji was responsible for "over 1000" job losses in Namibia.