Jellyfish Population Worries Fish Industry

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By Charles Tjatindi

SWAKOPMUND

As the effects of climate change continue to impact on major industries in the world, the Namibian fishing industry could become one such casualty.

The ever-presence of jellyfish in Namibian waters, which feed on fish eggs of commercial species, has had the line ministry worried. Although no scientific information is available in Namibia on what causes these jellyfish to multiply, experts believe climate change and alterations in the ecosystem could have contributed to such an increase.

This came to light recently during the annual address on the status of the Namibian fishing industry by the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Dr Abraham Iyambo. The effects of climate change, global warming being one such effect, has been impacting negatively on nature and economies, the minister noted.

Despite these developments, however, Iyambo noted that early reports point to a stable industry in which the harvesting of most fish stocks has produced desirable results. The ministry is yet to conduct a general survey on the industry later this year, but the line minister said he has confidence in the progress made by the industry over the last 12 months.

On the hake fish stocks, Iyambo noted that although it is still early to make conclusions, early data points to a slight improvement in catch rates and the sizes of fish landed.

“Our scientist will continue to accompany hake fishing vessels, in order to collect scientific data and to monitor the effectiveness of management measures imposed. The healthiest of the hake stock is crucial,” said Iyambo.

Iyambo noted that deliberate conservation measures – including closed areas and closed seasons, that were introduced two years ago seem to have yielded positive results. The horse mackerel fish stock on the other hand needs more time to allow it to produce the desired fish stocks.

Scientific research during the past two years revealed that the larger portion of the horse mackerel stock within 200-metre depth zone consist mainly of young fish.

“Therefore, it is incumbent upon us all to ensure that such juveniles are protected and are allowed to grow to size and afforded an opportunity to produce eggs in order to replenish their stocks,” added Iyambo.

According to the last survey conducted in October last year, the biomass of the pilchard is still very low and largely dependent on recruitment success.

A new angling regulation, which allows a recreational angler to retain only two silver cobs larger than 70 cm, was also introduced in 2001. The most popular angling fish specie, the silver cob undertakes annual spawning migrations from about mid-January when they start moving southward out of the skeleton coast area. While moving south, the adult spawners, of 70cm or more in length, aggregate at suitable shallow bays to spawn.

Iyambo called on all parties involved to manage fish resources prudently, so as to keep the industry alive.

“We should continue managing our resources with prudence. Conservation and precautionary approaches should be upheld as our motto and practice.

Let the excellent co-operation between the industry, inspectors and scientists continue to prevail,” said Iyambo.

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