The high rate of unemployment in Lüderitz could be reduced to a certain extent when a new multimillion-dollar seal-processing factory becomes operational next year. The Minister of Fisheries of Marine Resources, Bernard Esau, during the planned seal factory’s ground-breaking ceremony held last Thursday at Nautilus Industrial Area in Lüderitz, applauded the efforts made by Uukumwe Youth Empowerment Consortium, a 100 percent Namibian entity initiated by young entrepreneurs. The consortium will be a shareholder in the factory.
The minister said that Uukumwe was first granted a quota in 2012 for a total of 5 000 pups and 356 seal bulls. Due to their continued commitment to increase value to the seal products, this quota has been increased to 7 299 pups and 543 bulls in the current harvesting season. As part of their commitment to downstream development, Uukumwe initiated the seal factory in Lüderitz, which will enable them to process pelts, meat, blubber and other by-products.
“Through this project we expect the creation of new jobs that will not only supply products to the large Namibian market, but also international markets,” the minister emphasised. Esau indicated that his ministry prides itself on upholding the constitutional commitment to the maintenance of ecosystems, essential ecological processes, biological diversity and the utilization of living natural resources on a sustainable basis for the benefit of all Namibians, both present and future.
“Our ministry is aware of the sensitive issues surrounding seal harvesting and has undertaken numerous scientific studies together with international experts to address issues of common interest,” said Esau. Uukumwe chairman Olavi Hamutumwa indicated that the company’s research led them to countries such as Canada and Norway, which have thriving seal industries, to learn from their best practices. They also visited the United States of America in search of core machineries required in the processing stages. Uukumwe is a fishing rights holder for three species, namely, horse mackerel, large pelagic fish (tuna, swordfish and shark) and Cape fur seal.
The factory will have the capacity to process 40 000 seals per season, July to November, to produce skins, oil, animal feed and meat. The seal factory will cost about N$15 million.