• September 24th, 2018
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Pilchard fishing banned until 2020

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Front Page News

Albertina Nakale Windhoek In an attempt to help save the pilchard fish resource, which is in danger of extinction in Namibian waters, Cabinet has endorsed that the total allowable catch (TAC) for the species be set at zero metric ton for the 2018-2020 fishing season. This is contrary to media reports that fisheries minister Bernhardt Esau early this year reportedly ignored advice from scientists and his officials and pushed ahead with the allocation of pilchard quotas, a species declared “depleted” and in danger of extinction off the Namibian coast. At the time, Esau denied allegations he had ignored recommendations from scientists in the ministry, adding he was not merely pushing for the interests of pilchard companies. Minister of Information and Communication Technology Tjekero Tweya, who yesterday announced the Cabinet decision on the TAC, defended Esau, saying he never ignored scientific advice. Tweya said the fisheries minister has always based his action on scientific advice given to him by the Marine Resources Advisory Council, made up of scientists, trade unionists and other officials. “We have a scientific council that advises the minister to ensure we manage our fish stock so that they recover [from] overfishing and climate change. But scientists are monitoring the situation, hence the zero ton for this season. We must sustain them so they don’t get extinct,” Tweya noted. Last year, Cabinet, on the recommendations of Esau, approved the harvesting of 10,000 metric tons, but the fishing companies only managed to catch 3,400 metric tons of the total allocation.  Further, Tweya at the final Cabinet briefing for the media for 2017 yesterday, said Cabinet also endorsed that the TAC for horse mackerel be set at 340,000 metric tons for the 2018 fishing season. He also announced that Cabinet endorsed that the TAC for deep-sea red crab be set at 3,446 metric tons for the 2018 season. Following several accusations that Esau has been advancing the interests of fishing companies by not heeding scientific advice to put the brakes on pilchard fishing, the ministry’s top leadership defended that they took a conservative approach by not banning the fishing of pilchard because of several reasons. The permanent secretary in the fisheries ministry, Moses Maurihungirire, earlier in an advert placed in the local press explained that fears created by the media, to imply that pilchard stocks were not being managed in a sustainable and responsible manner, were incorrect.  Maurihungirire said they considered several factors before pushing ahead with the exploitation of pilchards. He said pilchard stocks were mainly affected by fishing pressure, environmental changes such as sea surface temperatures and sea upwelling, which affected food production for pilchards, and the predation of pilchards by seals, sea birds and other predators. Maurihungirire said that pilchards had suffered unsustainable harvesting in the past, which resulted in a drop in catches from over one million metric tons in 1968 to less than 50,000 metric tons in 1990. He noted the fisheries ministry had observed that the natural mortality of pilchards was quite high, adding such volume of fish will be removed by natural mortality, even if it is not allocated via the total allowable catch process. Caption
2017-12-13 08:44:39 9 months ago
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