The Chairman of the Namibia Rock Lobster Association, Mike Nghipunya, has revealed that the current crayfish season has been extremely good compared to that of last season and that the sector is doing so well that it has managed to penetrate the Chinese market.
He said the season started well since last November until January and catches were very good. From the end of February and the whole of March, they experienced adverse weather conditions but despite that setback, he is satisfied with the catches.
Normally, the crayfish season lasts six months, as it starts on November 1 until the end of April and the industry has to maximise the period it is given.
Nghipunya indicated that the government has approved a deep-sea lobster experiment during the off-season from May until October, for a period of five years.
This is to determine the availability of lobster in the water deeper than 50 metres and, should everything go according to plan, he is hopeful the lobster season will be extended to one year as compared to the current six-month period.
The sector exports cooked and uncooked frozen crayfish to Japan and its new market China, where the sector has been exporting live crayfish since last season.
In the current season, they expect to export about 50 tonnes of crayfish to China, which is remarkable for the sector in terms of live exports.
Due to the crayfish quotas which are very small, Nghipunya said they have been unable to supply crayfish to Taiwan, as there was such a request.
Crayfish harvesting only lasts six months; therefore, depending on the outcome of the deep-sea experiment, the sector could catch crayfish for the entire year.
Currently, the sector only employs 64 workers, but only a few of them are going to carry out the deep sea experiment during the off season.
Crayfish is a luxury product and is mostly eaten in restaurants and hotels.
It has vitamins A, E, B12, calcium, iron, Omega 3 among others.
“We want to make sure that all Namibians who are able to afford to buy crayfish have access to crayfish. The sector has come up with the programme to have discount for crayfish vendors who own restaurants in Luderitz. For instance, we gave Barrels Restaurant in Lüderitz a certain amount of crayfish which they can catch with our license, for them to make crayfish available to visitors who come here. We also gave a discount to Nest Hotel and Roof of Africa and we are now busy with the social restaurants in Windhoek, but we are welcoming all restaurants, to buy crayfish and make them available in their restaurants,” said Nghipunya.
According to Nghipunya crayfish cannot be sold to the rural areas because it requires refrigeration, as it cannot be dried. Therefore, the Seaflower Group currently has a programme to support the Lüderitz Crayfish Festival and to market it locally.
He said the crayfish industry is not a money-making industry and is classified an SME that would like to see its quota increased to 300 tonnes so that it could create more jobs.