Fish stocks healthy: Esau

19 Apr 2015 09:40am
WALVIS BAY, 19 APR (NAMPA) – The Namibian fishing industry was booming in the 2014/15 financial year with healthy fish stocks and increased quota allocations.
In his 2015 annual fishing industry address at Walvis Bay on Friday, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernhard Esau gave assurance on the good state of the industry.
“We are strong, there is no threat; no over exploitation of marine resources and our stock is healthy and in a good state,” he said.
Esau noted that 605 450 metric tonnes (MT) total allowable catches (TACs) awarded as fishing quotas to fishing right holders in 2014/15 financial year was higher than the 528 796 MT awarded in 2013/14.
The overall export value of fisheries also increased from N.dollars 5.7 billion in the 2013/14 financial year to N.dollars 7 billion in 2014/15.
This increase is attributed to improved sizes in various fisheries and increased prices.
“The total landings of 412 173 MT in 2014 was however lower than the 519 606 MT in 2013,” said the minister. Landings refer to fish and shellfish that reach land and are sold.
He continued that an amount of N.dollars 60 million was committed by the sector to socio-economic contributions in the 2014 fishing season, which benefited many communities in the country.
These contributions ranged from fish donations and sponsorships for scholars, to monetary donations to churches and health organisations amongst others.
“Traditionally we have encouraged fishing companies to exercise corporate social responsibility in favour of various communities nationally. I am happy to note that many companies have heeded this call,” he applauded.
Highlighting specific stocks for each of the commercial species, the minister said horse mackerel stock remains healthy and stable with a TAC of 350 000 MT over the past three years.
“Hake stocks in our waters continue to be stable. The TAC in 2013/14 was 140 000 MT but increased to 210 000 MT in 2014/15. The increase in the latter was due to an 18-month break that allowed the stock to reproduce. This positive impact confirms that October will remain closed for vessels in the hake industry. To make this a binding commitment, this management measure will soon be gazetted,” stated the minister.
Esau noted that pilchard fishing remains under moratorium for the past 10 years.
This is because in several stock assessments, recruitment has been below average and spawning stock biomass below the limit reference point.
“Assessments however, showed an increase in pilchard food (plankton) in 2014. Based on that, the Marine Advisory Council recommended a TAC of 25 000 MT.
The ministry will continue setting a minimal and conservative TAC on this specie,” said the minister.
He proceeded that rock lobster stock increased in the fishable biomass during 2014, coupled with consistent increase in the average sizes caught.
The 2014/15 TAC for rock lobster fishing season is at 300 MT.
Esau said crab stocks continue to be healthy with the TAC of about 3 150 MT over the past three years. Landings are now averaging at about 98 per cent in 2014, compared to 90 per cent the previous year.
“I urge the industry in this sub-sector to boost employment and value-addition, which are at much lower levels compared to other fish species,” he said.
Esau said Namibia concluded a trade agreement with the European Union (EU) in 2014, which now allows the country to export fish stocks to Europe.
The minister concluded that for the next five years, the main policy focus for Namibia’s fisheries shall be on the fight against poverty and inequality.