WALVIS BAY – A stock assessment carried out by the fisheries ministry over the past year has yielded mixed results as some fish stocks show growth while others are still in a precarious state.
This was highlighted by fisheries minister Derek Klazen during his annual address to the fishing industry at Walvis Bay on Friday.
He said monk and crab stocks are currently at sustainable levels, with monk showing a 2% growth in total biomass to about 70 000 metric tonnes, based on stock assessment research conducted by the ministry.
The overall stock biomass of hake has grown by 22% to about 2.3 million metric tonnes.
“However, the overall spawning biomass is still below the biomass that can produce a Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY). We, therefore, need to continue with our efforts to rebuild this stock so that catches are brought closer to the MSY level,” Klazen observed. The minister added that the current spawning stock biomass of horse mackerel is at a sustainable level, but the recruitment is below the long-term average.
“The scientific survey conducted in March 2022 has indicated that the stock has declined drastically. The size of the fish has been decreasing over the past five decades, and catches of the midwater fishery are now continuously made up of relatively smaller fish in size,” Klazen explained.
As for pilchards, they still remain in a precarious state and a March 2022 assessment showed that the stock was still doing poorly for the ninth consecutive year.
“The spawning stock biomass was found to be insignificant. As you may be aware, the ministry has imposed a moratorium on this stock, and will continue its research programmes to monitor it closely and reopen the fishery once the stock has recovered to a biologically-sustainable level,” Klazen stated.
Rock lobster stock is likewise in a poor state, and is showing signs that the fishing pressure exerted on the resource has been too high.
“We have observed that up to 80% of undersized lobsters are still being caught. Remedial actions are, therefore, required in order to avoid this stock from collapsing. The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of rock lobster is currently 180 metric tonnes, but right holders only get 4 metric tonnes to harvest. Previously, the TAC for rock lobster used to be over 900 metric tonnes, and it is worrisome to observe the decline as the town of Lüderitz is very much dependent on the harvesting of rock lobster,” the minister said.
Caption: Fishing being processed in a fishing factory.
Photo: Eveline de Klerk