Hordes allegedly loot tonnes of fish

Knives drawn, nets cut.
A horde of people allegedly robbed a group of beach track scene permit holders of tonnes fish.
Adam Hartman
A group of fishermen, who have beach track scene permits, were allegedly attacked by a horde of people on Thursday, and robbed of tonnes of fish they landed between the fuel jetty and the brod island north of Walvis Bay.

Beach track scene fishermen have permits from the fisheries ministry to catch fish by hand with nets from the shore within designated areas. No motorized equipment is used and this way of fishing is dying out.

According to one of the license holders who does not want to be named for fear of being victimized, told Erongo 24/7 they were beach track fishing at around 09:00. "There were four of the permit holders operating in the area and the condtion of the water was perfect for fishing. We wish for these type of days everyday. The workers of a contractor cleaning up the beach noticed that we were catching a lot of fish. They left, returned with more people from the northern suburbs of Walvis Bay (some in vehicles) and approached one of the fishermen who had already landed his catch. He became so scared that he just left his fish and went sitting in his car. The large crowd apparently destroyed his net, removed the fish from it and shifted their attention to the rest us."

The permit holder said that they were catching a mix of fish – mostly the smaller type sardine, horsemackarel, and mullets (harders) . "We pulled in about three tonnes and while were were drawing the fish, this horde attacked us.”

According to him, they tried to stop people from taking the fish out of the nets. “There were so many of them. It looked like ants. They overpowerd us. When we tried to stop them, they threatened to stab us,” he said, adding that there were even toddlers in the horde. “They also cut our nets up. My damage alone was about N$120 000.”

He said they just stood and watched from a distacne while the people were taking the fish.

The quota-holders managed to get away with about 60kg of fish. The rest were taken by the crowed that pticed at the beach. “People were even loading it into cars. Fortunately no one was injured, but we did fear for our lives,” he said.

There were alledgely police officers on the scne but they did not help because there were too many people. “We approached them for help. I don’t know what to say. This is how we make a living. If our life is in danger what must we do? Fight back? We don’t always have a catch like this. What will happen if we take matters into oour own hands next time?”

When asked there was a fish wash-out due to sea conditions associated with the hot east weather, the quota-holder said “no”. According ot him, the fish tey landed was the fish ‘stolen’ that got taken by the huge crowd."

Erongo police spokesperson and the commander for community affairs Inspector Ileni Shapumba said that the police are not aware of the incident, although they did recieve a report that the weather caused a wash-out of fish that apparently drew the crowds to the area. Fisheries and marine resources spokesperson Uaripi Katjiukua confirmed to Erongo 24/7 that the was an “incident” but said that the ministry first had to investigate before making an official statement. She did however indicate that the fish on the beach was not a natural phenomena. "The preliminary investigation by the ministry revealed that it is pilchard that was incidentally caught by a Mullet Right Holder. We gather more information and determine the appropriate action to be taken."