Esau says Namibia has enough pilchard

17 Feb 2017 07:20am
SWAKOPMUND, 16 FEB (NAMPA) – Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernhard Esau has said Namibia’s pilchard biomass is not depleting or depleted because the enforced regulations are designed to allow recovery.
“There is stock in the sea but we need to establish whether the statements that pilchards went deeper and cannot be caught by trawlers anymore is true,” he said.
Esau was responding to Nampa’s queries at the annual ministerial staff meeting in Swakopmund on Thursday.
Managing Director of Etosha Fishing Corporation at Walvis Bay, Pieter Greeff last week told this news agency that apart from fish going deeper into the ocean, bad weather conditions such as wind also made it difficult to bring the fish to factory.
He said they have thus not been able to meet the granted quota and last year had to close a shop.
The pilchards Total Allowable Catch (TAC) given to right holders has decreased to 14 000 Metric Tonnes for this and the next financial years, but Esau said Namibia has enough pilchards.
He assured that the TAC will not deplete the country’s stock over the next three to four years because it is based on scientific research.
The minister said Namibia’s pilchard stock was also exploited during colonial times and his focus is to ensure recovery by reducing the TAC from 25 000MT to 14 000MT last year.
“In the past, they used to have a TAC of 50 000MT but we do not do that because we want our stock to recover properly.”
Asked about seals feeding on pilchards and how that effects Namibia’s stock, Esau said the TAC for seals in 2015 was fixed at 80 000 pups and 6 000 bulls for the following three years.
He said there is speculation that the seal population at Cape Cross has been growing but he needs to verify this before commenting further, adding he is giong there next week.
“If it has grown, it is even more proof that there is enough fish in the sea, especially pilchard because they mostly feed on those.”
He could however not say if the seal TAC will be increased if the colony has grown.
Esau said low catches has affected the pilchard industry where some people lost jobs, but the ministry is doing their best to ensure that the industry stays afloat and those employed remain so.