New fishing rights to be awarded only next year

09 November 2018 Author   CHAMWE KAIRA

Aspiring fishing rights holders will have to wait until early next year to know if their applications were successful after the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources indicated this week that it will need more time to sift through more than 5000 applications. 

Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernhard Esau, told the Windhoek Observer on Thursday that his ministry has the daunting task of sifting through over 5000 applications for 120 fishing rights on offer.
Esau said awarding fishing rights has become such a taxing task given the large increase in applications, which he said has risen from 100 soon after independence.
“With 1500 applications, it would take us three months, now with 5000, we have to look at every application, you can’t just pick and choose,” the minister said. 
Esau said he plans to publish a list of all the people who applied for fishing rights at the end of this month. 
Meanwhile, Cabinet has announced that the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for hake in the 2018/2019 fishing season has been set at 154,000 metric tons, the same as last season.
 The season will run from 1 November 2018 to 30 April 2019.
The Total Allowable Catch for Rock Lobster was set at 200 metric tonnes, a reduction from the 230 metric tonnes set last season.
The season will run from 1 November 2018 to 30 September 2019. 
Commenting on the TACs, Esau said scientists had found that the biomass was in good shape to be harvested. 
He, however, said a moratorium on the harvesting of pilchard will remain in place until the biomass improves. 
In a measure to save pilchards from extinction in Namibian waters, Cabinet announced in December that the TAC for pilchards had been set at zero for the next three seasons.  
Pilchards have 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.
Commenting on reports of illegal fishing in Namibian waters, Esau said the matter was receiving attention ‘at the highest level.’ 
He said this after sources told the Windhoek Observer that budget cuts have led to a reduction in patrols by the ministry’s fishing boats.  
“That is a security issue and I can tell you that it is receiving attention at the highest level,” the minister said. 
Chairman of the Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations, Matti Amukwa, said last year that illegal fishing activities were taking place in the sea close to the Angolan border.
Amukwa said foreign-flagged boats were sneaking into Namibian waters from Angola to steal Namibian fish.
Namibia has since ratified the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA).
Parties to the agreement are obliged to implement a number of measures, while managing ports under their control, with the goal of detecting illegal fishing, stopping illegally caught fish from being offloaded and sold and ensuring that information on unscrupulous elements is shared globally.

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