The government has given the green light to the fisheries ministry to again allow pilchard fishing in Namibian waters.
Cabinet last week lifted the ban imposed on pilchard fishing, which was halted in 2005 due to dwindling stock levels that threatened the extinction of this valuable fish species in Namibian waters.
According to an official release on the outcomes of last week’s Cabinet meeting, Cabinet approved that the total allowable catch (TAC) for pilchard for the 2016 fishing season – which starts at the beginning of next month – be set at 14 000 metric tonnes (MT).
Fisheries permanent secretary Moses Maurihungirire said yesterday that the ministry would allocate the quotas to pilchard right holders by month-end.
The PS said: “The lifting does not mean they have not been fishing, it just means the recommendation given by the scientists was zero TAC, but [in the past] the minister decided to give an economic quota to keep the fish canning industry running.” The overall export value of fisheries increased from N$5.7 billion in the 2013/14 financial year to N$7 billion in 2014/15. The lifting of the pilchard moratorium is expected to further increase the export value.
Fisheries minister Bernhard Esau earlier this year said the moratorium was in place for so long because in several stock assessments, recruitment had been below average and spawning stock biomass was below the limit reference point.
Last year, however, assessments were made by the Marine Advisory Council that found there has been an increase in pilchard food (plankton) in 2014. Based on those findings, the council recommended a total allowable catch of 25 000 MT.