Board to protect against illegal fishing

The watchdog of the ministry of fisheries will not only need to monitor all fishing activities in Namibian maritime borders, it will also need to make sure its reports lead to action.

03 December 2018 | Fishing

Bernard Esau, minister of fisheries; “. . . don't blame anyone if you are found illegally present in our marine waters.”

The Fisheries Observer Agency (FOA) board will be held accountable in ensuring that Namibia's fisheries are protected from illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU).

During the inauguration of the FOA's new Board, the minister of fisheries and marine resources, Bernard Esau, said illegal fishing activities which have been taking place around the country's northern maritime borders, are unacceptable.

“The government has taken measures to increase security in this area, and some concrete actions are already underway. I therefore warn those who may be participating in or facilitating these IUU fishing activities, that your days are numbered.”

The board was inaugurated on 22 November. Its functions are to observe the harvesting, handling, and processing of marine resources and related operations, and to record data concerning such operations; collect and record biological and other information related to ­activities governed by the Marine Resources Act; collect samples of marine resources harvested; report to the agency any observations and information obtained under this subsection; and to perform such other activities as may be agreed upon between the minister and the FOA.

“In other words, the FOA is the eyes of the minister.

“I note that our FOA is considered a best practice in fisheries management globally, a first for Africa, which is correct. We must continue to give meaning to the aspirations of the government in establishing the FOA,” said Esau.

He reiterated that the FOA board must make sure that their reports lead to action.

“It is not just about making reports of observations and then a blame game on inaction – I want to see close collaboration between the FOA and the ministry, leading to concrete action and resolution of all violations observed by the FOA in a timely manner,” he said.

According to Esau the FOA board's duties extend to observations of landings, handling, processing and the associated data.

“I am directing the board to lay particular emphasis on the accuracy of data on fish landings at all our major ports, and any possible transhipments, and submit a report to me by 31 January 2019,” he said.

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