Eveline de Klerk
Swakopmund-Some subsistence fishermen at the coast say more fishermen could resort to illegal fishing and rather pay the N$300 fine than go the legal route and pay a hefty monthly N$1,500 for a fishing permit.
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources Dr Moses Maurihungirire, when contacted for comment on Wednesday, told New Era the ministry was well aware of the situation and would rectify and adjust the fine in line with the newly increased fishing permit fee.
He added that the ministry would undertake proper consultations and then adjust the fine in consultation with the Ministry of Justice. “All the legal requirements from our side will be done and then the justice ministry will come in to finalise it,” he said.
He could not confirm though how long it would take to enforce the new fine.
Speaking to New Era after a meeting in Swakopmund on Wednesday, some fisheries experts said the N$1,500 increase would not be effective at the end of the day, unless the ministries of fisheries and justice consult and adjust the fines accordingly.
Some industry experts said fishing without a permit and being arrested for it is obviously much cheaper than paying the new permit fee. “This certainly does not justify the hefty recreational fishing levy at all,” one said.
“What we also gathered is that the fishermen are so desperate that they are willing to rather go the illegal route and pay that N$300 fine, as it’s cheaper at the end of the day for them. We also do not foresee that the new fine(s) will be introduced anytime soon,” he added.
Speaking after a meeting in Swakopmund on Monday, 55-year-old Johannes van Wyk also said fishing without a permit would be much cheaper than obtaining a monthly permit for N$1,500.
“It is very tempting and saves you N$1,200. Some of us might not do it, but others that are very desperate to feed their families will,” he said. Van Wyk was shocked to learn the fisheries ministry had not yet adjusted the fine(s) for illegal fishing, despite hiking the permit levy.
A well-placed source in the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources at Walvis Bay said they had pointed out the fine issue to the ministry when they were discussing the levy increase. “We knew this was going to be a challenge as the fine does not balance out the current increase,” the source said.