Ministry of Fisheries spends millions to combat illegal fishing

Stefanus Nashama

The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources disclosed an expenditure of over N$70 million in the fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing activities within the country’s territory last year.

According to the Ministry, the expenditure does not encompass the salaries of fisheries inspectors and all involved personnel.

Furthermore, the Ministry has revealed that it allocates over N$130,000 per day for each patrol vessel involved in sea operations.

These revelations come in response to queries raised by the Leader of the Landless People’s Movement (LPM), Bernadus Swartbooi, regarding alleged illegal fishing activities along the northern borders.

Swartbooi sought to ascertain the measures undertaken by the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources to address the challenges posed by illegal fishing.

In response, the Ministry has confirmed the allegations, acknowledging recent illegal fishing activities within Namibian waters along the northern borders.

“It is indeed true that incidents of intrusion into Namibian waters have been reported and detected. When a foreign vessel is identified as operating illegally in Namibian waters and crosses over into Angolan waters, which fall outside Namibian jurisdiction, support is sought from Angolan authorities to pursue these vessels further,” the ministry responded.

However, the Ministry clarified that the response and progress regarding such activities hinge on the actions of the concerned state, which, in this case, must be managed diplomatically.

According to the Ministry’s response, significant resources continue to be deployed to address IUU fishing-related activities, with an emphasis on adapting the surveillance program to reduce IUU fishing.

“In recent years, up to 50 percent of sea patrols have been dedicated to this IUU fishing hotspot to increase presence and deterrence. As of March 2022, we have increased the number of patrolling vessels from one to three, thereby enhancing monitoring capacity,” the response stated.

The response further noted that the adjustments to the program had yielded positive results when comparing IUU fishing reports over time.

Simultaneously, the Ministry emphasized that any further changes to the approach would depend on the availability of resources.

“We are collaborating closely with other government agencies to protect fisheries resources. This includes joint sea patrols conducted with Namibian Navy Officers and Nampol Water Wing Officers, alongside Fisheries Inspectors,” stated the Ministry.

The Ministry also mentioned that Derek Klazen, the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, engages neighbouring countries in cases involving vessels flagged or licensed to fish in their waters.

Last year, the Ministry conducted a joint sea patrol operation with Angola, covering the northern Namibian and southern Angolan waters. During this operation, 39 fishing vessels were inspected (23 in Namibia and 16 in Angola).

Of these, nine vessels violated the provisions of the relevant fisheries legislation in their respective countries and were subsequently fined, as confirmed by the Ministry.

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