Namibian fishing sector launches Africa's first Ocean Cluster
NEW: The Namibian fishing sector has launched Africa's first Ocean Cluster. PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

Namibian fishing sector launches Africa's first Ocean Cluster

The Namibia Ocean Cluster was launched on 26 April as a legally registered non-profit entity in Namibia. The founding and associate members signed a commitment in January to minimise waste and maximise the socio-economic value of fish harvested from the Namibian fisheries sector.

In 2021, approximately 23.8 million tonnes of aquatic foods were lost or wasted, representing 14.8% of total aquatic food produced that year globally. The UN FAO identified reducing seafood loss as a priority action for meeting the Sustainable Development Goal target 12.3 of halving food loss and waste by 2030. The long-term impact of industry shifting to circular economic models will result in increased food production and nutrition security, increases in local employment and a more efficient use of marine resources, contributing to several global environmental and social goals.

The Namibia Ocean Cluster, supported by the World Economic Forum’s Ocean Action Agenda, has been created to bring together the seafood sector and allied stakeholders with the mission of maximising the utilisation of all seafood harvested. The cluster’s goal is to promote innovation, research and markets for fisheries by-products while enhancing socio-economic benefit. The Namibia Ocean Cluster aims to catalyse increasing efforts, both nationally and regionally, to develop circular models across the seafood industry.



Supporting innovation

The six founding members of the Namibia Ocean Cluster are made up of leading Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified hake fishing companies Embwinda, Hangana, Merlus, Novanam, Pereira and Seawork, while the three non-fishing associate members are the Fisheries Observers Agency, Namibia Nature Foundation, and Sam Nujoma Campus, University of Namibia. These nine founders represent a wider group who have supported the development and innovation activities of the Ocean Cluster over the last three years. This pre-competitive, collaborative forum is the latest national chapter in a global movement for ‘100% fish’ to cut seafood loss and waste, initiated in Iceland and including Ocean Clusters in Alaska, New England and Denmark.

“I’m honoured to stand as chair for this inaugural year of the official Namibia Ocean Cluster. It has been a fascinating journey with the World Economic Forum team these past three years and now my colleagues and I are committed to succeeding in our collaborative full utilisation mission going forward,” said Pierre le Roux, sales and marketing manager of Seawork and new Namibia Ocean Cluster chair. While the cluster is currently driven by the hake industry, it is open to all fisheries in Namibia, and it is hoped that more companies representing a variety of seafood will join to collaborate on future by-product utilisation projects. Non-industry parties who can bring relevant expertise to enable full utilisation are also welcome to join the cluster as associate members.

“We are excited to see this important group come to fruition for the future social benefit and environmental sustainability of Namibia’s fisheries,” said Alfredo Giron, head of Ocean Action Agenda at the World Economic Forum.



African cluster

The Iceland Ocean Cluster, leader of the 100% fish movement, has been a strong supporter of the project, advising on the development of the cluster and sharing their own experiences on 100% fish utilisation.

Namibia joins a growing ‘family’ of clusters around the world looking at minimising loss and waste of their seafood and is the first African chapter.

Much of the identified opportunity in by-product utilisation reflects similar situations in other global fisheries. This project has produced several reports that outline the process used to develop the Namibia Ocean Cluster and investigate by-product opportunities.

The cluster was represented at the UN Ocean Decade Conference in Barcelona in April, joining the panel discussion on aquatic food loss and waste solutions.

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