Ministry hard at work

05 March 2019 | Visserye
JANA-MARI SMITH

With nearly 17 000 direct jobs created by Namibia’s fishing industry and billions generated in foreign income each year, it is a crucial role player in Namibia.

The sector is the third-largest employer behind mining and agriculture, as well as the second-highest contributor to the GDP.

Statistics show that more than 16 800 people were directly employed in the fishing sector in the 2016/17 financial year, and the ministry of fisheries and marine resources says this number is set to increase as a result of efforts to broaden local participation in the sector.

The ministry says Namibia’s fishing sector is a lucrative partner in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), with roughly N$10 billion earned in foreign currency in in the last financial year.

The ministry says since its inception in 1991, it has “desired to travel a journey of continuous change, exploring new paths to success and greatness in our quest to achieve a vision of Namibia to be a leading nation with a well-developed aquaculture industry.”

In its effort to ensure sustainable exploitation of marine and river resources, the ministry has adopted a rights-based approach to limit access to fishing activities and to allow all Namibians to share the resource.

“The status of our fisheries is healthy and sustainable, both in terms of stock and economically.”

During the 2017/18 period, the total allowable catch (TAC) for various fisheries was 507 276 metric tonnes, a 3% decrease from the previous year’s TAC of 521 714 tonnes.

The majority of fish landings, 95%, are from the sector’s marine subsector, while inland fisheries and aquaculture together contribute about 1 500 tonnes of the annual total range of 510 000 to 550 000 tonnes of landings.

The ministry remains focused on implementing a Blue Economy governance and management system by 2020, aimed at sustainably maximising economic benefits from marine resources and ensuring equitable marine wealth distribution.

By 2022, the ministry’s target is to be the main fisheries and fish-processing hub in the South-West Atlantic Ocean region through increasing the volume of fish handled, canned or processed in Walvis Bay.

Another primary strategic plan is to implement the current 70/30 value-addition ratio in the horse mackerel subsector.

Namibia’s fisheries ministry works closely with a number of stakeholders regionally and elsewhere to boost research, management and other activities, the ministry says.

To further trade, the ministry has concluded the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), alongside SADC partners, which provides continued duty- and quota-free market access to EU markets,

A major challenge the ministry is grappling with as a “matter of urgency” is to combat are increasing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) activities occurring at the northern border with Angola.

Illegal activities on river systems are also a problem, especially the use of nets in the Kavango and Zambezi rivers.

The ministry has called on the Namibian police and the army to assist with patrols to address the situation at the border with Angola.

Additionally, the fishing industries have shown interest in assisting the ministry with resources to boost monitoring.

The Fisheries Observer Agency and its inspectors are also addressing the issue diligently, the ministry said.

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