Namibia - Country Commercial Guide
Commercial Fishing

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2020-08-29

Fishing is one of Namibia’s top industries, contributing about three percent of GDP since 2007 and about 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 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 but 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 August 2020 the government announced that it will auction off certain fishing quotas to foreign fishing companies due to the government’s pressing need to raise revenue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Mariculture – primarily oysters – is another market ripe for expansion.  Namibian oysters reach market size in half the time of oysters in some other parts of the world and according to experts are very high quality.  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 for assisting companies 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 also be export opportunities for U.S. equipment manufacturers.  As fishing is a capital intensive industry, Namibian companies are looking to acquire equipment/vessels that will reduce overall operating costs.     

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 roughy, have been suspended to allow fish stocks to recover. 

Web Resources

Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources:
Namibian Fishing Industry Online: and