WALVIS BAY - The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernhard Esau, says Namibia’s fish stocks are healthy and are being sustainably managed.
Addressing the fishing sector in Walvis Bay on Friday, Esau said findings by scientists, specifically regarding horse mackerel stocks, indicate that the fish stock is above the maximum sustainable yield and has been in this state for years.
The total allowable catch for horse mackerel is 349 000 metric tonnes (MT) for the current fishing season.
According to Esau, hake stocks are also healthy and the 154 000 (MT) set for the current fishing season is also sustainable.
Currently, horse mackerel and hake stocks constitute about 94 percent of the country’s total landings.
“Data from our scientists indicate that our monk, deep sea crab and rock lobster fisheries are stable, and that the 8 000 MT declared for monk, 3 400 MT for crab and 200 MT for rock lobster are, therefore, sustainable. Aerial surveys indicate that our seal population is healthy, and is in fact expanding significantly,” Esau said.
Commenting on the state of pilchards, Esau said although a moratorium is in place, pilchards only constitute about 2.5 percent of the county’s total annual fish landings.
“Hence, it should be seen in this context. However, our entire fisheries is one ecosystem, which is interlinked in terms of the food chain, and therefore a small fishery in terms of biomass can have a large impact on other species in the ecosystem. This is why we are taking the issue of pilchards seriously,” Esau explained
Esau added that it is still not clear at this stage whether the pilchard stocks have declined, or have migrated deeper and away from our shores.
“Cabinet has directed that extensive studies be undertaken on this fishery, including its interactions with seals, and I am happy to note that this work is now underway. I expect to receive conclusive reports on this matter next year,” he said.