Eveline de Klerk
Swakopmund-Local fishermen say the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources has pushed them into destitution with the recently gazetted hefty fishing permit increase that went up more than hundred-fold from N$14 to N$1,500 per month.
Those affected by the hefty increase lamented that it flies in the face of the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) that calls for inclusivity of Namibians in all spheres of economic activity and says no one should be left out.
Recreational fishing/subsistence permits were recently increased by the fisheries ministry from N$14 to N$1,500 per month, which was described as unaffordable by those catching fish for their day-to-day survival.
Recreational fishing, also called sport fishing, is fishing for pleasure or competition. It contrasts with commercial fishing, which is fishing for profit, or subsistence fishing, which is fishing for survival.
People New Era spoke to yesterday said the increment came as a shock as they had not been informed or consulted on the issue. An elderly fisherman, Joel Amupala, says he hasn’t been fishing for the past two weeks as he cannot afford a permit that costs N$1,500 monthly.
“Fishing was not only a hobby for me, but it was a means to supplement my government grant so that we have enough at home. Now the permit costs more than what we get from government which I simply cannot afford,” he said.
He appealed to the minister to relook the increase and rather ask about N$100 a month.
“They say we must also benefit from the country’s marine resources, but how can we benefit with this type of increase? How are we benefitting if we are being excluded.”
Another fisherman who is affectionately known by coastal residents as the ‘bicycle fisherman’ also said that he is deeply concerned about the increment that “disadvantages all anglers”.
He said he simply stopped fishing after learning about the increase last week.
“There is no way I can afford a permit of N$1,500. They must really look into this issue as they are plunging us, who rely on recreational fishing to feed our families, more into poverty instead of sharing the resources with us,” he said.
He added that only tourists and well-off fishermen would be able to pay for the N$1,500 permit.
When contacted for comment yesterday the public relations officer in the fisheries ministry, De Wet Siluka, said they are aware of the complaints about the increase but the ministry was “busy consulting” and would issue a statement today.
Siluka said the ministry has never increased its recreational fishing tariffs since its inception.
He added that despite the increase to N$1,500, recreational fishing permits are still cheap “compared to countries such as South Africa”.
He added that the ministry is currently also working on a policy that will “identify recreational fishing in different criteria” whereby for registration purposes subsistence fishermen will be exempted from certain fees.
He however said that a detailed press statement on the issue would be released today.