• November 15th, 2018
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Massive support for Cabinet’s pilchard ban


Eveline de Klerk Swakopmund The managing director of the pilchard harvesting and canning Etosha Fishing, Pieter Greef, yesterday told New Era that they will not retrench any of their 720-strong workforce, despite the fact that Cabinet this week announced a ban on catching pilchard until 2020. Government, in an attempt to help save the pilchard fish resource, which is in danger of extinction in Namibian waters, resolved the total allowable catch (TAC) for the species be set at zero metric tonne for the 2018-2020 fishing season, which was announced at a press conference in Windhoek on Tuesday. Speaking to New Era yesterday from his holiday base in South Africa, Greef said the ban has been long in coming and would help save the fish stocks from total depletion. “We knew that this was coming, as we were already informed about the possibility on the 29 November by the minister of fisheries and marine resources, Bernard Esau,” he said. According to Greef, the entire fishing industry knew about the zero biomass TAC and that it was indeed pointless to allocate any further quotas for pilchards. The industry was allocated 10,000 metric tonnes last year, but could only catch 3,400 metric tonnes of the total allocation. The pilchard industry provided seasonal and permanent jobs to about 3,000 Namibians. “This we fully understand and support the decision taken by our minister and Cabinet. At this stage we will not be retrenching any of our workers, but will be looking at increasing our pilchard imports to sustain to secure jobs, “Greef said, noting he was concerned about the future of the pelagic industry. He added that they already signed contracts to can pilchards for South African companies, Glenrick and Lucky Star Pilchards next year. Greef also told New Era they will be importing more that 13 tonnes of pilchards from Morocco next year. Asked whether the process was profitable, Greef said it does not yield notable profits, but certainly keeps the business up and running. In terms of venturing into other fish species, such as horse mackerel, Greef said it would present a challenge as their vessels are designed to catch pilchards and are currently all deployed in Angola. Chairman of the Namibian Confederation of Namibian Fishing Association Matti Amukwa said the decision to ban pilchard catches was needed to allow the fish stocks to recover. “The whole fishing industry should be supportive to the pilchard companies and should be willing to avail horse mackerel for canning, as this can sustain jobs for the pilchard industry, “he said yesterday. Seamen and Allied Workers Union (NASAWU) leader Paulus Hango said the union also fully supports the Cabinet decision and appealed to the fisheries minister to look into the possibility of allocating horse mackerel quotas to the pilchard companies. “We know that the minister was criticised and taken to court in the past when he decreased the horse mackerel quotas of some companies. However, in the current situation we should not be greedy, but should allow them to get a quota although they are not right holders, just to keep them going and sustain jobs – at least until the ban is over.”
New Era Reporter
2017-12-14 09:05:03 11 months ago

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