By Desie Heita
Discarding of fish at sea was one of the topics at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Marine Fisheries Ministerial conference on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities, with delegates seeking the establishment of mechanisms to stop such activities in the region.
The conference is taking place in Windhoek.
Last year, the Namibian fisheries authorities arrested eight of the 10 horse mackerel trawlers operating in Namibian waters after fisheries inspectors found devices used for dumping fish at sea on board the vessels.
Sandy Davies, of the Stop Illegal Fishing programme, said discarding of fish at sea is one of the five issues in Southern Africa. The others are fishing in restricted areas and fishing in closed season, which happens often in Mozambique, as well as the use of dynamite and poison in artisanal and small-scale fisheries within closed and protected areas near the shoreline.
“Even though systematic information is limited, illegal, unprotected and unregulated fishing activities are a major problem in SADC,” said Davies.
SADC is also faced with poaching, an activity that happens when the fish stock of highly migratory species are on the far edge of the sea. It has also been noted that in some countries fishermen manipulate catch reports and weights to be able to exceed quota limits or misreport species caught.
Davies said illegal fishing has a negative impact on the economy as it translates into loss of revenue for the legitimate fishers and associated industries such as the ports, fish processors and fish handlers.
“There is long-term economic loss due to stock depletion,” said Davies.
The three-day conference ends today. In attendance are representatives from Angola, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Tanzania and Mauritius.