Fish stocks growing, but pilchards need to recover

03 Apr 2014 18:40pm

WINDHOEK, 03 APR (NAMPA) ? Namibia?s fish stocks are relatively stable with some growing, while others such as pilchards, still need to recover to make a significant contribution to the economy. The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) Bernard Esau said this during his budget motivation speech in Parliament on Tuesday. The fisheries ministry requested more than N.dollars 368 million for the 2014/2015 financial year. Esau said biomass surveys were conducted to estimate stock sizes and distribution of all commercially exploited marine fish species. Seven biomass surveys were conducted to estimate stock sizes and distribution of all commercially exploited marine fish species, while 15 routine environmental monitoring surveys were conducted during the 2013/14 financial year. The surveys, amounting to a total of 300 sea days, were conducted on board the line ministry?s three research vessels - Mirabilis, Welwitchia and !Anichab. Esau said the data sets collected during such surveys as well as data collected during special sampling programmes at the various fish factories in Walvis Bay and Lüderitz and on-board commercial fishing vessels were used to determine the status of the various commercially harvested fish stocks. It also determines the status of the marine environment which enabled the formulation of scientific recommendations on the sustainable utilisation of Namibia?s living marine resources. Based on these recommendations the ministry was able to set Total Allowable Catches (TAC) and allocate quotas to individual right holders. The minister added that his ministry also plans to conduct a survey for orange roughy during the 2014/15 financial year, in order to determine whether the status of this stock could allow for commercial exploitation of this resource to resume. The orange roughy fishery was put under a moratorium during 2009 fishing season due to poor catches recorded prior to that fishing season. Furthermore, during the 2013/14 financial year, the ministry also embarked upon the development of the Horse Mackerel Management Plan, in collaboration with the Angolan government and with the assistance from the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) Fish II Project. Esau said the plan is now at an advanced stage, and is expected to be finalised during the 2014/15 financial year. ?The ministry will continue to carry out scientific surveys and research activities aimed at assessing the population dynamics and distribution of our commercially important stocks, such as hake, monk, horse mackerel, pilchard, crab, rock lobster, seals as well as those of the marine environment in order to provide the necessary time series for stock assessment purposes,? he noted. (NAMPA) PC/ND