Global Value Chain Positioning as a Sustainable Strategy: the Namibian Fishing Industry

Subject: Case Studies
Pages: 12
Words: 3366
Reading time:
13 min
Study level: PhD


The surfacing of Global Value Chains has delineated the characteristic of the 21st century trade and essentially transformed dealings amid nations. Sustainable development has turned into a catchphrase in preservation and management and denotes an endeavour to reconcile the environment, its resourcefulness, and economic advancement. Namibian fishing industry has a vital function in the economic advance in the nation, not just as a chief subscriber of gross domestic product (GDP), but also as a resource of prosperity that creates employment and a means of the improvement of coastal societies.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has regularly held discussions concerning aspects leading to unsustainability in fisheries. Namibia backs an immense industrial fishery, its nature being comparable to the majority of the industrial fisheries across the globe. This paper discusses Namibian Fishing Industry as a case study, briefly demonstrating a number of the significant facets of the fishery that ought to have led to triumphant management.

In addition, it assesses numerous of the major aspects that are deemed to have led to the recent reductions of the orange roughy, anchovy, and sardine stocks, and efforts are made to determine what further strategies could have been carried out to guarantee the sustainable utilisation of these stocks. The fisheries management system of Namibia is highly anchored in the application of economic inducements and fines to boost conformity; thus, the institutional and economic aspects that influence the sustainability of the species are tackled.

Problem Statement

Studies associated with other financial sectors, for instance, manufacturing and agriculture have illustrated that the efforts by the Namibian government to merge financial neoliberalism and social fairness have, indeed, led to a developmental predicament. Fisheries management has grown in the course of the twentieth century from just an idea that it could not be possible to fish down the seemingly never-ending wealth of fish in the deep-sea, to the present actualization that approximately 71% of the fish stocks internationally are either completely or over-utilised. Regardless of the superfluity of cases of reducing fish stocks and quantity, there is still neither vivid agreement on the reasons behind overfishing nor on the resolutions.

Aims and Objectives

The main objective of this study was to instigate a situational evaluation of the Namibian Fishing Industry that would enlighten the improvement of fisheries to enhance the sustainable exploitation of fish stocks.

With the purpose of achieving this, the study aims are:

  • To build up a contextual analysis of the position of Namibian Fishing Industry
  • To examine the views held by stakeholders within Namibian Fishing Industry concerning the sustainable utilization of fish species
  • To assess information concerning the sustainable exploitation of marine resources, with respect to information regarding Namibian Fishing Industry

It is worth noting that this study concentrates just on the fisheries sector whereas the marine resources of Namibia offer much more than only fish.

Literature Review

Studies affirm that the Marine Resources Act of 2000 in Namibia is notable across the globe as among the highly progressive and triumphant fisheries strategies. The accomplishment of this act earned Namibia several medals such as the Silver Award in 2012 (Paterson, Kirchner & Ommer 2013). The fishing industry is deemed a vital foundation for economic advancement and progress in most nations globally.

The Benguela current’s huge marine ecological unit is among the best prolific across the globe, and, in this regard, the Namibian Fishing Industry has been of universal significance for a long time. Different from other fishing countries, the Namibian Fishing Industry did not begin from local small-scale subsistence fishing, but the nation’s marine reserves have at all times been caused to undergo foreign industrial-approach exploitation.

After gaining independence, the country reorganized the fishing industry, seeking to channel the stream of gains to the residents. Nowadays, the fishing of stocks of hake, deep-sea (Merluccius paradoxus), and shoal water (M. capensis) is excessively done in the Namibian Fishing Industry; fishing in Namibia is almost entirely export-anchored and industrialized (Bundy et al. 2008). By the end of 2007, nearly 96 percent of fish caught in the course of the year had been sold to other countries (Norse et al. 2012). In proportion to neoliberal perspectives of traditional fishing industry economics, the government of Namibia anticipated that the financial rents and the engagement generated by the fishing industry would assist in dealing with the nation’s agitating poverty concerns.

On the other hand, other courses of action had been executed to rectify extant inequalities more unswervingly via the nation’s Namibianisation strategy that seeks to enhance the participation of Namibians in the fishing industry. Furthermore, some organisations had been set up to endow the residents with the ability to purchase fish at reduced costs to counteract the likely unconstructive impacts that a sector concentrating on international markets may experience for national food security (Paterson, Kirchner & Ommer 2013, p. 66).

Namibia has effectively pooled the neoliberal finances that have typified the progress narratives since the early 1990s with welfare-statist objectives of poverty decrease. The aforementioned wide-ranging conviction rests in the prizes that the fishing industry was awarded by some international bodies such as the World Future Council (WFC). Studies have illustrated that even with the achievement of the majority of the aspects that encourage sustainable utilisation of fish stocks, long-standing sustainability is not assured. It is resolved that if conventional fishing industry management has had restrained triumph in Namibia, the possibility of unrelenting conquest elsewhere is doubtful.

Attributable to excellent management practices and fortunate circumstances, Namibia has built up a fishing industry management establishment that, in accordance to the insights of fishing industry management, encompasses most of the acknowledged excellent endeavours that ought to lead to a sustainable fishery. An administration structure like that would have facilitated the recuperation of Namibia’s dwindling species to quantities that would support lasting sustainable fishing.

Irrespective of this, the feat of the Namibian Fishing Industry has been inconsistent at best (Jarre, Ragaller & Hutchings 2013). While some stocks of fish have recuperated, others have failed. Undeniably, some of the stocks have reduced in profusion and are in a more dwindling condition than at the time of the country’s independence in 1990, when the present fishing industry’s management regime was brought into being.

Ecological Unit and Multispecies Direction

Ecological unit advances to management, encompassing multispecies, environmental, and biodiversity concerns are presently being explored in Namibia, and certainly a declared objective for the Namibian Fishing Industry is to set up an entirely efficient ecosystem health managing system. The present single-stock monitoring system demands reasonably thorough command of the majority of the bio-ecological factors of every administered species and, as aforementioned, such a consideration is frequently missing or at best partial. Ecosystem and multi-stock administration is fundamentally a development of the present single-stock system but demands an even better comprehension of the coordination (Johnsen & Kathena 2012).

Issues have been articulated as to whether this is a reasonable objective, not just in developing nations like Namibia, but as well in nations with a highly developed fishing industry and superior research capability. Thus, some studies question the ability of ecosystem advances to the management of the fishing industry to boost the chances of lasting sustainable utilisation of species in any but the excellently examined and managed systems.

The level of qualms in evaluation will rise; therefore, managers will have inadequate confidence in the information accessible on which to base judgments. This approach unquestionably signifies a valuable objective, but until the kinetics of fish species, and certainly ecosystem in total are evidently comprehended and assessed, it is assumed that it will offer few gains over the present single-stock model, and perhaps at much higher cost.

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)

Different studies affirm that MPAs are attaining reputation for the administration of guarded habitations (for instance, lakes) and inactive beings and their allied societies (for example, coral reefs). In different ways, the MPAs supervision advance is non-targeted and inaccurate, and, with reference to information and statistics necessities, at the conflicting side of the discourse to ecosystem management. Nevertheless, MPAs may not signify a valuable tool till the comprehension of the biological, social, and financial factors of the fishing industry (and its connections) are better recognized (Davies et al. 2009).

The application of MPAs in numerous segments of the fishing industry encompasses orange roughy, for example, at the time of the closure of an aggregating section to all fisheries endeavours for more than three years. This brought about a quintuple in the biomass of orange roughy stock on this area and has greatly attracted propositions that the perception of the MPAs advance could be broadened, perhaps with some kind of rotational use of the areas.

This way, a number of the spawning species would be given a resting phase to recuperate from the commotion created by fishing, at the period that others were being fished. The studies on Marine Protected Areas reveal that they can be effectively utilized to pelagic undomesticated fish species, though; in the studies, it was restricted to a section of the development when the species was inactive. The capability of such a system being fruitfully utilized in managing more mobile species, for instance, sardine, is less confident (Srinivasan, Watson & Rashid 2012).

Namibian Global Fish Value Chain

Some of the actors in the Namibian global fish value chain encompass Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) that seeks to generate sustainable strategies. Other actors include private and public organisations and Namibian fishing companies. There are also actors under the fishing companies that encompass fishermen, fish collectors, processors, and exporters (Cochrane et al. 2009). Below is a figure showing the Namibian global fish value chain.

Namibian global fish value chain.
Fig. 1: Namibian global fish value chain.

The governance of the fishing companies includes deck officials, decision-makers, and fisheries supervisors (Paterson & Kainge 2014). The governance of the Namibian Fishing Industry majorly lies in the hands of the Namibian government, the Marine Stewardship Council, and the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources.

Possible value chain upgrading strategies could entail hiring professional researchers and organizing forums for all stakeholders to discuss best ways of ensuring success and sustainability of the fishing industry. Attributable to excellent management progressions (internalities) and auspicious situations (externalities), Namibia has formulated a fisheries management system that, in accordance with the views of fisheries management, ought to facilitate the revival of its reduced stock and then offer long-standing sustainable produce.

Nevertheless, Global Value Chain has had challenges; the feat of a number of economically significant stocks has indisputably improved, whereas others appear to have remained constant (Paterson & Kainge 2014). For instance, a number of species, particularly anchovy, in addition to sardine have reduced to depleted quantities that may currently be deemed “foundered”. Furthermore, the lately found orange roughy species reduced within a handful of years in such a manner that the present catch levels are hardly economically practicable. Another challenge in the Global Value Chain is the lack of resolutions and the motives behind overfishing.


Research method

This study uses a qualitative method of data analysis and primary method of data collection. This helps in examining the state of the Namibian Fishing Industry with the intention of offering a foundation for the future advancement of environmental culture for positioning the industry in the global value chain as a sustainable strategy. In the qualitative research technique, a case study has been chosen to structure methodological factors of the study; the case in this study is the Namibian Fishing Industry with respect to sustainable development.


Initially, the data for this study was collected through unofficial conversations with employees in the Namibian fishing industry, for instance, some deck officials, decision-makers, and fisheries supervisors. Unofficial discussions were also conducted with four experts at the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources. The rationale for the extensive talks was the provision of a detailed comprehension of the phenomena supporting the study.

The ultimate research sample encompassed major judgment makers in the Namibian Fishing Industry. Nine research participants were chosen for a detailed interview. The participants consisted of three decision-makers in the fishing industry representing the government, three managers of three different Namibian fishing companies that pursue judgments made, and three fisheries experts that offer the support base for the Namibian Fishing Industry and guide judgments reached.

Data Collection

After the selection of the participants, semi-structured interviews were employed since they permitted the researcher to generate insights into the manner in which the interviewees construed and made sense of sustainability. Prior to each interview, the researcher gave an explanation on the rationale for the interview, the nature of the questions, the confidentiality of the shared information, the freewill to participate, and then allowed the participants to enquire where they needed further clarification. The duration of each interview was approximately one hour. Consent was requested from each interviewee for the application of a tape recorder to boost the precision of data and offer a lasting record. The data held in the tape recorder was transcribed, generating a dependable source for reference and proof.

Data Analysis

This study found that every fishery endeavour occur within some aspects beyond the supervision of establishments in the fishing industry; internal and external aspects. The Namibian Fishing Industry is privileged in that most of the externalities that characterize the setting in which the industry emanates would appear to support the possibility of triumphant sustainable exploitation. The following are the aspects influencing the sustainability of the Namibian Fishing Industry as found from the study.


It is internationally evident that the Benguela current holds the uppermost levels of productivity across the globe. It is a reasonably prosperous ecosystem with little trophic rates, every stock having sensibly basic dealings with other constituents of the system, and somewhat modest seasonality. Therefore, the kinetics of the system is deemed fairly less problematical as compared to most of other ocean schemes, and so moderately simpler to comprehend, examine, and control. An additional aspect that abridges the control of the fishing industry is associated with the political confines of the system.

Ecological stipulations near Namibia’s marine borders shape natural obstructions that restrict the immigration of scores of fish species, particularly oceanic species. In this regard, some of Namibia’s fish species are either not divided up or only apportioned to an inadequate degree. Correspondingly, the majority of fish species happen within 110 nautical miles of the shoreline thus not considered part of the ranging species. Consequently, the intricate, and frequently unsuccessful, global management plans that appear routinely to chip in to the unsustainability of the fishing industry are not as significant in Namibia.

Financial and Institutional

The financial and institutional setting in which the fishing industry functions has numerous significant characteristics that could appear to back the build up of a sustainable fishing industry. The constitution of Namibia boasts to be the earliest internationally to support the sustainable exploitation of natural resource anchored in controlled values. This has presented the foundation for the proliferation of unambiguous and strong legislation to aid the management of the fishing industry, and complimented with a powerful and successful monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS), allows the courts to take serious measures against wrongdoers. Financially, the Namibian Fishing Industry ranks among the most significant sectors, signifying 26% to 31% of exports and approximately 10% of gross domestic product.

The Namibian Fishing Industry is among the chief employers in the nation and as mining, the other reputable industry in Namibia, drops in significance, lasting projections show that the fishing industry will gain even higher standing in the future. Thus, the government of Namibia has recognised the fishing industry as fundamental to the economic triumph of the nation and has placed enormous importance on instituting a vivacious and sustainable sector. Contrary to the majority of developing nations, this study found that the Namibian Fishing Industry consists of a few big industrial companies and no artisanal fishermen; this provides for a moderately simple management plan. Likewise, Namibia has just a couple of havens thus landings are reasonably simple to supervise.


The decision-makers affirmed that the abovementioned bio-ecological, economic, and institutional aspects are backed by numerous social features that would as well appear to enhance the development of a lasting, sustainable fishing industry. One of such contributing factors is the reality that the administration of the fishing industry began on a sparkling slating. The managers had the capacity to design a totally novel system of managing the fishing industry with few hindrances that fresh strategies so frequently bear. Moreover, the leadership of the nation was politically and exceptionally powerful, and consequently capable of taking disliked but essential judgments with immunity from reprimand or loss; that is, they were able to design successful groundwork prior to the period of the next ballot.


The findings of this study have given a summarisation of several of the aspects that have led to the reduction of the most economically significant fish species in Namibia (Cochrane et al. 2009). The reduction happened irrespective of reasonably excellent comprehension of the biology of fish, functioning of the ecosystem, and the execution of a broad scope of effective management progressions, encompassing those preserved in the majority of the global fisheries instruments. From the key aspects that led to excessive fishing of the Namibian sardine and orange roughy species, possibly the most significant was uncertainties regarding the condition of each species, leading to management judgments that were inadequately cautious to tackle the reduction in the species.

With excellent information, it is reasonably likely that the managers and fishing industry might have taken up dissimilar strategies or embarked on divergent choices that could have decreased, if not prevented, the reductions that the stocks experienced. For instance, scientific suggestions to decrease fishing mortality of the species in 1995 went ignored due to doubts in the evaluations thus the powerful force from the industry to maintain total allowable catch high was followed. Suggestions are that if the scientific recommendation had been anchored in more convincing outcomes, it would have been accented in advance.

Recommendations and Conclusion


The Namibian Fishing Industry should hire professional researchers to search for resolutions to the challenges the industry is facing, and for them to issue excellent information. This way, the managers and fishing industry will not take up dissimilar strategies or tackle divergent alternatives that could dwindle, if not avert, the reduction of the stocks. For victorious progress into a phase of partnership and collective accountability in the Namibian Fishing Industry, there is a need to sensitise and enlighten fishers and all stakeholders at large. Strong legislations should also be enacted to punish those found perpetrating unsustainability by going against the set guidelines; this will assure sustainable utilisation of the stocks.


The study demonstrated the requirement for an impartial and holistic advance in handling sustainable development in the Namibian Fishing Industry. The major decision-makers in the Namibian Fishing Industry approved the need to defend the marine setting within the objective of sustainable development, and to reinforce marine ecological judgement making and strategy formation via improving knowledge and comprehension of issues facing the Namibian Fishing Industry. The positioning of the Namibian Fishing Industry in the global value chain as a sustainable strategy necessitates a socio-economic meaning of sustainability that centres on social and economic interests for the current generation and preservation of prospective opportunities for the future generations.

Nevertheless, to uphold the future of fishing endeavours in the Namibian Fishing Industry, there is a need to team up and support an early refinement of the directives for dependable fishing. The operations currently being carried out by FAO will be of principal significance in this endeavour (Anticamara et al. 2011). This is a challenging undertaking that requires sacrifice; sacrifice, since it demands attainment of a rational utilisation of the Namibian Fishing Industry to make sure that it retains its capacity as a source of revenue, employment, and welfare for the Namibians.

Moreover, challenge arises since to achieve a permanently successful fishing activity is something that may perhaps pose the greatest difficulty of the twenty-first century, sustainable development. To sum it up, the recommendations offered in this study are sensible and essential to set up a baseline for the future development of fishing activities that will concentrate on sustainability of the Namibian Fishing Industry.

Reference List

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Cochrane, K, Augustyn, C, Fairweather, T, Japp, D, Kilongo, K, Iitembu, J & Vaz Velho, F 2009, ‘Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem—Governance and management for an ecosystem approach to fisheries in the region’, Coastal management, vol. 37, no. 4, pp. 235-254.

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Paterson, B & Kainge, P 2014, ‘Rebuilding the Namibian hake fishery: A case for collaboration between scientists and fishermen’, Ecology and Society, vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 327-337.

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