Namibian hake industry makes history

The Namibian government and fishing industry has earned recognition for efforts to rebuild hake stocks, which in the past were decimated by overfishing by foreign fleets.

23 February 2021 | Supplements

The Namibia hake trawl and longline fishery became the first in Namibia, and the second in Africa, to meet the globally recognised standard for sustainable fishing set by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), an environmental not for profit.

To be MSC certified, a fishery must show the fish stock is healthy, that it minimises its impact on the environment and has effective management in place.

A global surge in consumer interest in sustainably sourced products means demand is outpacing supply. MSC certification ensures the fishery can continue to export to markets in Southern Europe and will help it expand into retail markets in Northern Europe. Supermarkets and brands in these markets often prefer the fish and seafood they stock to be MSC-certified.

Fishing is the third largest sector of Namibia’s economy, with hake making up the majority of the sector and directly employing more than 10 000 people. The bulk of hake industry jobs go to women, who clean, fillet and pack the fish for export in factories around the ports where the hake is landed. MSC certification is expected to help the sector grow, benefiting the economy, communities and creating more jobs.

According to fisheries minister Dr Albert Kawana, “As custodians of our natural resources, it is our responsibility to manage Namibia’s fisheries in a way that ensures the long-term health and biodiversity of the oceans, and at the same time allows our fishing industry to maximise the value of the resource for the current and future generations of the Namibian people in line with the Namibian constitution.

“We have worked hard to rebuild hake stocks that were historically overfished. MSC certification of the Namibian hake is an independent endorsement that our efforts are working, and a signal to retailers, brands and fish lovers around the world that the Namibian Hake is sustainable and it is here to stay.”

Peter Pahl, Chair of the Namibian Hake Fishing Association, said that demand for sustainable hake is growing, especially in Europe.

“Having MSC certification will help the Namibian hake industry stay competitive and meet demand in our existing markets, as well as expand into new markets where retailers and brands preferentially stock MSC certified fish to meet their consumers’ expectations. Now we have certification, we hope to see our numbers grow, benefiting Namibians, communities, the economy and of course, the oceans.”

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