Aquaculture a headache – Esau

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WALVIS BAY – Despite receiving a financial injection of N$38 million during 2014, the aquaculture sector is not performing well and remains a great concern.

The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Bernard Esau says that despite the huge financial injection, the sector performed below average, with a mere 740 metric tons produced last year.

“Aquaculture is a headache. I don’t know why we are not getting it right. What is the magic formula for us to get the desired results?” Esau asked the fishing sector on Friday during his annual address at Walvis Bay.

He said a collective approach is needed, as aquaculture is positioned to also contribute to food security. He revealed that the ministry is committed to diversifying the fisheries sector through national fish farming initiatives.

“In Namibia, this type of fish farming also involves mari
culture, which is husbandry of oysters, mussels, freshwater farming tilapia and catfish.

“The main objectives of aquaculture development in Namibia is food security, especially to provide nutritious protein sources and employment creation,” Esau explained.

The minister went on to say that the millions invested last year resulted in significant expansion of aquaculture infrastructure and operations.

“Despite the fact that only 740 metric tons were produced, the aquaculture master plan indicates that this sector must contribute at least 10 000 metric tons within the next five years.

Therefore, in order for aquaculture to thrive, the private sector is needed to capitalise on the conducive environment create by the ministry, Esau told the gathering.

The minister then said that his ministry would continue promoting private public partnerships through various incentives, especially those that contribute significantly to poverty reduction.

On mariculture, the minister said his ministry is at an advanced stage in developing the shellfish sanitation regulations and enforcement procedures aimed at ensuring food safety during production, harvesting and handling of such species.

“This will greatly enhance market access for our mariculture sector as well as other products particularly to the European Union,” he said.

Furthermore, the minister said that inland fisheries also contributed substantially to the fishing sector, with 80 percent of total earnings yielded from the Zambezi region.

The main types of inland species harvested are tigerfish, bream and catfish.

Esau said harvesting fish in these waters is affected by illegal fishing, which is further complicated by the fact that the rivers are shared with neighbouring countries like Zambia.

“To reduce illegal fishing in inland waters, the ministry has strengthened surveillance measures to ensure compliance to regulations.

“We really need to fight this illegal fishing. I suggested that hovercraft patrols be introduced in the Zambezi River for this purpose,” Esau explained.

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