The Namibian fishing industry has called on the Benguela Current Commission (BCC) to formulate a workable solution to ensure sustainability of the horse mackerel fish stock.
This follows Angola lifting restrictions on mid-water trawling in their waters.
According to the chairman of the Namibian Fishing Association, Matti Amuwka, the lifting of the ban has resulted in 12 Angolan registered vessels operating just across the Namibian/Angolan border.
Namibia, Angola and South Africa share marine resources after the three countries signed the Benguela Current Convention, an environmental treaty that seeks to introduce an ecosystem approach to the management of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME). The signing of the Benguela Current Convention took place in the Angolan city of Benguela in March 2013.
Trawling is the use of large fishing vessels referred to as trawlers or draggers.
Trawling involves dragging or pulling a trawl through the water behind one or more trawlers. Massive fishing nets are pulled along the bottom of the sea or in mid-water at a specified depth to catch tonnes of fish. This method is regarded as a threat by the industry as it may lead to over-fishing and threatens the sustainably of marine resources.
Amukwa, who addressed the fishing industry last week at Walvis Bay, said the industry is especially concerned about the smaller fish being landed, specifically during this season.
“The smaller fish is a clear indication that the resource is not being allowed sufficient time to grow given the fact that resources are shared with Angola. One can thus argue that the joint resources currently have about 24 vessels operating in it,” he explained.
He added that the BCC should take this into consideration and the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources should carry out surveillance and monitoring, while the control section should also be on alert to monitor possible illegal fishing activities in Namibian waters by vessels operating in Angola, whose vessels do not have monitoring devices as Namibia’s fishing fleet does.
“Horse mackerel is a staple food in Angola and a key protein source. Management of the horse mackerel resource therefore aims to rebuild horse mackerel stocks, with the fishery moving towards self-sufficiency and reducing imports,” he said. Furthermore, Amukwa said the horse mackerel fishery is resilient but markets are under pressure because of the over-supply, resulting in prices dropping.
Canning of horse mackerel will however continue during 2015 and efforts are being made to grow the market for canning horse mackerel in South Africa, he said.
The total allowable catch for this species has remained at 350 000 tonnes over the past three years. “Horse mackerel is mainly traded in bulk frozen form and only a small portion is value-added either by canning, soups and smoking, drying or other wet processed forms. The sector is the second largest employment contributor in the fishing industry,” said Amukwa.