Tuna fish migrating to Angolan waters

01 Mar 2016 18:00pm
WALVIS BAY, 01 MAR (NAMPA) – Namibia’s large pelagic fish sector faces many difficult challenges which need cooperation among the fishing right holders and the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources if the industry is to survive.
Large pelagic fish include Tuna and Swordfish. Pelagic fish live in the pelagic zone of ocean or lake waters – neither close to the bottom nor near the shore.
Chairperson of the Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations (CNFA), Matti Amukwa said during the annual state of fisheries address in Walvis Bay on Friday that Albacore Tuna catches in Namibian waters have dropped from 4 392 tonnes in 2011 to 900 tonnes for the 2015 season, while the number of vessels taking part in fishing have dropped from 34 to only nine in 2015.
Of the nine vessels, three are Namibian and six South African.
Amukwa attributed the substantial reduction in the number of vessels employed in the industry since 2011 to the migration of Tuna from Namibian waters to Angola.
This is suspected to be caused by the negative impact of seismic exploration activities by petroleum operators.
Seismic exploration is the search for commercially economic subsurface deposits of crude oil, natural gas, and minerals by the recording, processing, and interpretation of artificially induced shock waves.
“Since seismic exploration escalated in Namibia’s southern waters, most of the South African line vessels which used to catch fish in Namibia on behalf of Namibian Tuna rights holders, now no longer do. This is because catch rates have dropped considerably and they fear losing money,” Amukwa said.
He added that since 2012, the Large Pelagic Association has been raising awareness of the possible negative impact seismic activities may be having on the Tuna migration in Namibia.
“The Large Pelagic Association is greatly concerned about the future existence and growth of the Tuna industry in Namibia.”
The Tuna sector is a seasonal industry which only lasts four to six months (June to November), and vessels lie idle for the rest of the year.
He requested the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources to resume the allocation of the Hake Total Allowable Catch (TAC) portion from the reserved quota to help keep Tuna vessels operational throughout the year.
“We humbly appeal to the ministry to resume assistance through an annual Hake allocation to the Large Pelagic Association to ensure survival of the Namibian Tuna vessel operators.”