Eveline de Klerk
WALVIS BAY - Fisheries minister Derek Klazen says he will not be pressured into making hasty decisions without doing proper research regarding trawling within the restricted zone of the country’s fishing grounds.
Namibia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) comprises 540 000 square kilometres and 1 572 kilometres of coastline along the South Atlantic, and trawling is not permitted in less than 200m depth.
Klazen, who was hosting a strategic planning session in Swakopmund with scientists and high-level ministerial officials, on Wednesday said some players in the horse mackerel industry made the request again despite it being shot down by previous ministers.
“They want to be allowed to fish beyond the current 200 nautical miles as the fish apparently migrated to the restricted area. I don’t know if these are chance-takers who want to use me, but as a custodian, I cannot make such an important decision while barely 100 days in office,” he stated.
“This meant that just like by a magic wand, the catches will be plentiful if the ministry was to approve trawling within the 200m isobars.
Conversely, there are those who argue that the migration of fish to a relatively warmer area within the 200m isobar is a fact. But they argue further that the fisheries migration involves only juvenile fish, and therefore allowing trawling within the 200m isobars will result in the depletion of the resource when the harvesting of juvenile fish is allowed,” Klazen cautioned.
The Wet Landed Horse Mackerel Association has been lobbying since 2019 to be allowed to catch in the restricted zone, as they face challenges competing with trawler vessels on the open seas.
As a result, they often have poor catches, despite having acquired sophisticated vessels. The sector highlighted in early 2019, after constructive meetings with the ministry’s research department, that a portion of 50 000 to 80 000 tonnes of the total allowable catch (TAC) caught inside the 200m depth isobar would have no adverse effect on the biomass of the country’s fish stocks.
However, Klazen said they will ponder this crucial matter, but also made it clear that the ministry’s priority is to promote the sustainable harvesting of the country’s natural resources by the fishing sector.
“Our scientists will conduct proper research, and the findings will be presented to Cabinet so that they can make a well-informed decision,” he continued.
The politician hoped that the retreat would review the legal architecture and policy and practice landscapes with the view to consolidating useful policy and legal provisions to assist the achievement of the mandate of the ministry.
“Furthermore, the practices, policies and legal provisions found not to be assisting in the attainment of ministerial objectives to serving the public better will be abandoned and replaced with more workable provisions,” Klazen added.
-With additional reporting from Nampa