Namibian fish stocks in good shape

The sustainable management of the fisheries resource have ensured a healthy and consistent yield of products for the country.

25 February 2019 | Fishing

Bernard Esau; Minister; “Hake stocks are healthy, and the 154 000 MT set for the current fishing season is also sustainable.”

SUBBED





The status of Namibia’s fish stocks is healthy, says fisheries and marine resources minister Bernard Esau.

Horse mackerel and hake stocks constitute about 94% of the country’s annual fish landings.

Esau told attendees at his annual address on the state of fisheries that findings by scientists indicate horse mackerel stocks are above the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) level, and they have been in this healthy situation for some years now.

“The 349 000 MT total allowable catch (TAC) set for this fishery in the current fishing season is therefore sustainable. Similarly, the hake stocks are healthy, and the 154 000 MT set for the current fishing season is also sustainable.”

Esau further said that the ministry has agreed to subject Namibia’s hake management plan which is also under review to international scrutiny and eco-labelling certification through the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

“This process being undertaken by officials from the ministry in collaboration with the hake association is progressing well and certification could be obtained through the course of this year.”

Data from scientists also indicate that the monk, deep sea crab and rock lobster fisheries are stable.

“The 8 000 MT declared for monk, 3 400 MT for crab and 200 MT for rock lobster are therefore sustainable.”

Aerial surveys conducted by researchers also show that the seal population is healthy, and in fact expanding significantly.

The minister also elaborated on the country’s pilchards stocks which he said had been a subject of discussions in the media for some time.

Landings from the pilchard fishery declined significantly over the years.

This situation led to government declare a fishing moratorium for three years in 2018.

Putting this situation in the proper perspective, Esau said that the pilchard fishery constitutes about 2.5% of Namibia’s total annual fish landings, hence it should be seen in this context.

“The entire fisheries is however one ecosystem, which is interlinked in terms of the food chain, and therefore a small fishery in terms of biomass can have a large impact on other species in the ecosystem. This is why we are taking the issue of pilchards seriously. At this stage we are not clear whether the pilchards stocks have declined or have migrated deeper and away from our shores.”

Cabinet subsequently directed that extensive studies be undertaken on this fishery, including its interactions with seals, and this work is now underway.

“I expect to receive conclusive reports on this matter next year”, the minister concluded.

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