Pelagic fishery may never recover – scientist

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Eveline de Klerk

Walvis Bay-Some scientists aboard the Norwegian research vessel Hansen that docked on Saturday in Walvis Bay are of the opinion that the pelagic fishery may never recover.

Responding to questions on Saturday morning on board the world’s most advanced research vessel, researcher and scientist Bjoern Erik Axelsen, who is part of the team carrying out a regional survey on pelagic resources off the Atlantic coast of Africa, said that currently not only Namibia faces a crisis in terms of the resource.
“This is experienced by all fishing countries in the world, not only Namibia,” he explained.

According to him, years of overcatching did not really give an opportunity to the pelagic fishery, which was once a lucrative source of income for many, a chance to recover.

“As a result, the pelagic industry collapsed and we are still uncertain whether it will fully rejuvenate. It is not only over-catching that we need to worry about but environmental factors such as global warming that we have to take into account as well,” he said.

He added that one of the reasons that contributed to the collapse of the industry is the lack of policies to promote responsible harvesting.

“Policies guiding and protecting fishing were never in place. Apart from that, we are currently dealing with the migration of fish species due to global warming and deep-sea mining. As a result, more fish species are moving closer to the bottom of the ocean. All these play a very crucial role – hence this fishery may never rejuvenate.”
Namibia’s pelagic industry is among the hardest hit despite the implementation of various policies and the allocation of low total allowable catches.

Earlier this year, the pelagic industry indicated that about 3,000 people had to be retrenched due to low or no catches at all. At least two pilchard canning factories also had to be closed. Etosha Fishing, which operates in the pelagic industry, currently imports pilchards from Morocco.

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