By Charles Tjatindi
An international conference aimed at reviewing development and progress of Namibia’s fishing industry is due later this year.
The conference is expected to provide a platform on which to review the investment climate, scientific data, financial sustainability and relevant enforcement.
The conference will highlight and take stock of major developments and setbacks in the industry since its formation 18 years ago.
Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Dr Abraham Iyambo, announced the conference at his recent annual address of the fishing industry. Although the ministry will release more information on the conference in due course, the minister confirmed that his ministry has been conducting studies on the industry that would be used at the conference.
One such study was carried out last year on external factors that affect the industry, while two more studies – the assessment of marketing of aquaculture products and another on freshwater aquaculture cold water storage – are also due.
Similarly, the ministry will be carrying out a feasibility study of fresh water fish farming in the Omaheke Region.
Since the turn of the new millennium, the Government has embarked on direct promotion of aquaculture as an alternative activity to marine fishing.
His ministry put in place legal and institutional framework for the development of aquaculture – Aquaculture Strategic Plan of 2004.
This provides a huge diversion from traditional modes of operation of such sectors within the African context, where aquaculture tends to be promoted in a random and uncoordinated manner.
The fishing industry remains Namibia’s second biggest export earner, with projected earnings for last year estimated at N$4.184 billion.
During the first 10 years, the Government invested part of its financial and human resources in the re-establishment of the marine ecosystem, damaged by a long period of intensive and uncontrolled fishing activities, pursued mainly by foreign fishing vessels.
In later years, however, the management policies of the fisheries sector were concentrated mostly on the restoration of the marine ecosystem and on the development of sustainable fishing policies.
During his recent address, Iyambo urged Namibians to participate in the ministry’s efforts to protect the marine ecosystem, which will ultimately allow for a feasible fishing industry in the long-term.
He noted that his ministry acquired a fisheries patrol aircraft, which will strengthen the aerial surveillance patrol in Namibian waters.
“Seven mid-water trawlers were seized during 2007 in accordance with the Marine Resources Act. Suspected dumping of monkfish by some operators is also under investigation. This shows how serious we are about illegal fishing activities on Namibian waters,” said Iyambo.
Namibia has taken over the chairmanship of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, which seeks to protect pristine coastal and fishing resources.