News – National

by Adam Hartman

THE Beijing Ruier Animal Breeding and Promoting Company (BRABPC) withdrew its plans to catch and export Namibian sea creatures, because it became impatient when the fisheries ministry did not decide on the application sooner.
The company, together with its local partner Welwitschia Aquatic and Wildlife Scientific Research (WAWSR), applied for a permit earlier this year to catch dolphins, whales, seals and penguins for Chinese aquariums.

There was widespread condemnation from local and international conservationists and marine experts who argued that all wildlife must be maintained on a sustainable basis.

Fisheries permanent secretary Moses Maurihungirire told The Namibian yesterday that they could not just decide before evaluating the pros and cons of allowing the export of marine life.

He also said they had to look into the local and international laws pertaining to the export of marine life, some of which are protected and endangered.

“It had nothing to do with the pressure it got from the public or conservationists.

They got impatient and so they can do what they want,” Maurihungirire said.

In a leaked proposal to the ministry, the company said it wanted to invest N$300 million, which they believed would be important in managing and protecting Namibia’s marine resources.

A Russian ship ‘Ryazanovka’ that had been around Walvis Bay for some months to carry some of the marine resources, was allegedly previously involved in the controversial capture of orcas along the Russian Pacific coast some years ago.

In a press release this week, BRABPC said its intentions were good and transparent and that the project would have benefited most Namibians through economic development.

It also said it is because of a “few objectors” linked to wealthy locals and foreigners, and people with “white skins”, that this intention will not materialise.

“Their voices and opposition to this project have been very strong, even insulting and claiming that the project is either criminal or have some underhand objectives,” the statement read.

The company complained about how a proposal was leaked to the media before the ministry could pronounce itself and give “some animal zealots” an opportunity to denounce the application.

They blamed the media for prosecuting them as an investor, inciting unwarranted demonstrations and protests against the project, even though “they did not quite well understand it”.

They also argued that their intention to catch and export seals should have been welcomed by animal lovers as the seals would not be culled.

The project would, according to the company, have contributed to foreign currency, taxes, jobs and “so many developmental good things which the country needs to move forward.”

“However, since time is money and we have already spent numerous resources on this project without any positive feedback, we are cutting our losses and moving out from Namibia, except one day when the Namibian government is ready, we may return,” the company stated.

‘Namibians against Plundering of Our Marine Life’ at Walvis Bay, who have campaigned against the project, said they did not believe the statement.

They believe that it is a means to soften their guard, and questioned its sincerity.