15 December 2017 | Visserye

Aquaculture punted as solution

Aquaculture along rivers is a viable option of relieving pressure from the country's natural capture fisheries, as well as providing nutritious food and sustaining the livelihoods of many people.

The minister of fisheries and marine resources, Bernhardt Esau, said this on the occasion of the fish harvesting of the Epalela Aquaculture Fish Farm near Ruacana in the Omusati Region on Wednesday.

Esau said his ministry was determined to diversify sources of fish in the country and believed that fish farming in Namibia was possible, practical and could be done in an economically viable way.

According him, aquaculture in Namibia started in the early 2000s with a strong commercial drive behind marine aquaculture in the farming of oysters, mussels and clams.

“This sector has had commercial success and produces on average 1 500 metric tonnes a year,” Esau said, adding that freshwater aquaculture was mainly focused on promotion of small-scale fish farming.

He said aquaculture competed with cheaper fish from the Zambezi, Kavango and Kunene river systems, which produced an estimated 5 000 tonnes per year until 2013/14 when commercial exploitation with monofilament dragnets destroyed the fish resource in the Zambezi and Kavango systems.

“Under my leadership, we have banned the use of these destructive nets on inland water bodies and are working closely with other riparian states to ensure sustainable fisheries in these rivers,” Esau stated.

The Epalela Fish Farm has produced 12.3 tonnes of fish this financial year (2017/18). The production is expected to increase after Wednesday's harvest, which is estimated at five tonnes. This increase in production, Esau said, was mainly due to availability of fish feed supplied by the National Fish Corporation of Namibia.

Speaking at the same occasion, Omusati governor Erginus Endjala said his region had two government aquaculture farms at Epalela and Onavivi, as well as 14 successful small-scale farms producing tilapia.  - Nampa