Fisheries fines fetch N$91 000 in festive season

Harvesting worms, the biggest offence
Otis Daniels_Finck
Swakopmund ∙ [email protected]

The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources issued over N$91 000 in fines from 1 to 31 December 2021.

Figures provided to Erongo 24/7 showed that N$90 540 in fines were issued by the Walvis Bay regional office, which is responsible for the central and northern coast, while N$900 in fines were issued by the Lüderitz office, which is responsible for the southern coast.

All the offences registered at the Walvis Bay office had to do with illegal harvesting, fishing without permits, and violating the size and quantity limits. Of the N$90 540 in fines here, N$37 000 (37 culprits fined N$1 000 each) was for the illegal harvesting of prohibited annelid worms (known as red worms), while nine people were fined a total of N$14 700 for harvesting undersized lobster.

The catching of undersized fish fetched N$8 900, which included 43 fines, while 30 people (a total of N$8 800) were fined for harvesting without a recreational fishing permit. Fifteen people were fined a total of N$7 640 for collecting undersized white mussels.

Other smaller fines included the harvesting of undersized rock lobster in excess, undersize fish in excess, the excess harvesting of kabeljou larger than 70cm (only two per angler permitted), and harvesting rock lobsters that are carrying eggs.

The fines at Lüderitz were for failure to comply and provide correct information to fisheries inspectors at a roadblock; the interference of an investigation at a roadblock during a fisheries inspection; and a permit holder not complying with the conditions for the transportation of marine resources by not having the permit in his possession. All three offences were fines N$300 each.

The public relations official for the ministry Uaripi Katjiukua said that while some anglers respected the law all the time, others “behaved aggressive and uncooperative” when confronted by fisheries inspectors.

She said that the ministry also made special arrangements to open permit offices during weekends and public holidays at all three coastal towns, yet anglers still harvested without permits. “It is a shared responsibility of the ministry and every responsible citizen to protect our living aquatic resources and the environment, and responsibly use the resource for our benefit today and future generations,” said Katjiukua.

She also announced that the Paaljies area just south of Walvis Bay is closed from 1 January to 31 March as part of the annual conservation measures in respect of kabeljou under the Marine Resources Act of 2000. “The regulation is enforced annually to protect the spawning stock of silver kob that is undertaking its annual migration to breeding grounds at Sandwich Harbour from the north coast. As the stock passes through the central area, many anglers target them, hence the need to limit anglers’ daily catches to two silver kob larger than 70cm, and the closure of Paaltjies,” she explained.

In the meantime, the environment and tourism ministry were also not happy with the general disregard of the environment and park rules by holiday-goers.

The ministry spokesperson Romeo Muyunda told Erongo 24/7 that littering has been observed especially at the coast with the influx of holidaymakers there. “Litter was left unattended at most recreational areas such as beaches and dunes. This was risking the contamination of our ocean, affecting aquatic species,” he said, adding that littering was also observed elsewhere in the country, on the roadsides, towns, city, settlements, suburbs and even in the national parks.

He said that ministry officials also observed with concern people not adhering to park rules and regulations. “Common offences included loud music, fireworks in the parks, and people jumping out of their cars while in the park among others.
“This is disappointing conduct and irresponsible,” said Muyunda.