Namibia - Country Commercial Guide
Commercial Fishing
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Fishing is one of Namibia’s top industries, contributing about 3 percent of GDP since 2007 and approximately 20 percent of export earnings.  The Namibian government (GRN) has been largely successful in sustainably managing its fisheries.  The GRN has had mixed results with its program to “Namibianize” the fishing industry, which historically has been dominated by foreign (mostly Spanish) companies.  Government incentives to increase Namibian participation have resulted in a proliferation of fishing companies and an overcapacity in onshore processing; they have also created jobs for previously disadvantaged Namibians.  The “Fishrot” scandal – in which two former ministers and their accomplices were arrested in November 2019 for accepting bribes in return for directing valuable fishing quotas to an Icelandic fishing company – had significant distortionary effects on Namibia’s entire fishing sector and could lead to major reforms.  In 2021, Namibia raised $38 million from the Governmental Objective Fish Quota auctions of 2021.  Six auctions were held in total during 2021, with 86,040 metric tons auctioned off.  This follows the Government of Namibia’s 2020 resolve to sell the fish quota through a competitive auction system to the highest bidder to ensure that the country receives the correct value of its fishery resources and fully benefits from its natural resources.

Mariculture – primarily oysters – is another market ripe for expansion.  According to experts, Namibian oysters are high quality and reach market size in half the time of oysters in some other parts of the world. There may be opportunities for abalone production.  While oyster and abalone farmers seek high-value markets like the United States, the Namibian Standards Institute has not moved forward on developing a qualified food lab because they feel that existing markets are sufficient for the limited quantities Namibia can produce.

Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources officials have also expressed interest in expanding freshwater aquaculture capacity, which may result in new opportunities in coming years.

Leading Sub-Sectors

·        Engines/systems that make existing vessels more efficient

·        Water desalination systems

·        Industrial ice-making systems

·        Marketing services to assist companies seeking to penetrate the U.S. market

·        Freshwater aquaculture equipment


Although there are incentives against significantly automating onshore fish processing (companies that employ more Namibians are generally afforded larger fishing quotas), there might be export opportunities for U.S. equipment manufacturers.  As fishing is a capital-intensive industry, Namibian companies are looking to acquire equipment and/or vessels that reduce overall operating costs.

In December 2021, NovaNam, a Namibian subsidiary of Spanish fishing company Neuve Pescanova Group, acquired two brand new fishing trawlers worth $21.3 million for its fishing grounds off the coast of Luderitz.  The acquisition demonstrates that the fishing industry is a major player in the Namibian economy, and although most of the fishing industry is not in a financial position to purchase new trawlers, such opportunities do exist.

Namibian companies interested in expanding their fleets often seek used vessels to avoid large capital outlays. However, before entering into an agreement to sell a used fishing vessel firms are recommended to conduct proper due diligence, as the import of used fishing vessels to Namibia is technically prohibited for safety and environmental reasons.  Nevertheless, Namibian firms have successfully purchased used vessels in recent years. 

Namibian firms are trying to diversify both their markets and their product lines.  U.S. firms that can provide assistance with penetrating new seafood markets for both fin fish and shellfish (primarily oysters) or that can provide services (know-how) and equipment for developing value-added products may find willing buyers/partners in Namibia.  Fishing licenses for certain species, such as pilchard and orange roughly, have been suspended to allow fish stocks to recover. 


·        INFOSA:                             

·        Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources