Namibia loses N$ 1.5 billion annually due to illicit fishing

Niël Terblanché

The Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations (CNFA) has sounded an alarm, revealing that the Namibian fishing industry suffers annual losses exceeding N$1.5 billion due to illicit, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices.

The shocking losses were revealed after the recent arrest of an Angolan fishing vessel engaged in illegal activities within Namibian waters, serving as a stark warning to other vessels operating illegally in the region.

CNFA Chairperson Matti Amukwa said that the losses incurred by the Namibian fishing industry are both significant and detrimental.

“These staggering losses not only affect our economy but also deplete our valuable marine resources. We must take robust action to combat illegal fishing,” he said.

The Angolan-flagged MFV Lucimar was apprehended on December 19th in a collaborative operation between the Namibian Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources and the Namibian Navy. The vessel was found operating near the border between Namibia and Angola without the required permits, in clear violation of Namibian fishing regulations.

The Natanael Maxhulili marine patrol vessel intercepted and escorted the Angolan vessel to the port of Walvis Bay, where it was securely docked.

Deputy Commissioner Kauna Shikwambi, head of the Namibian Police’s Public Relations Division, provided further details about the vessel’s arrest.

She added that the vessel had a crew of 19 members, consisting of 15 Angolan nationals, two Senegalese nationals, one South African national, and one Portuguese national.

“Upon inspection by fisheries inspectors, it was found that the vessel does not have a license or permit to harvest marine resources in Namibian territorial waters, and it had also contravened other fisheries-related acts,” she said.

Subsequently, the vessel’s captain, Rodrigues Jose, its chief engineer, Charl le Corre, and an Angolan crew member, Mateus Sikalepo Ambrosio, were arrested, charged, and appeared in court at the Walvis Bay Magistrate’s Court on December 29th.

The court denied them bail, and the three suspects were remanded in custody, with the case postponed to 8 February 2024 for further investigation.

Illegal fishing has been an ongoing concern in Namibia’s northern waters since 2015, prompting the fishing industry to rally behind the fisheries ministry and law enforcement agencies in their efforts to combat IUU fishing.

Amukwa highlighted that more than 100,000 tonnes of fish are harvested annually by foreign trawlers allegedly operating under licenses in Angolan waters in the northern part of Namibia.

A 2017 report on illegal fishing, supported by the industry, underscored the need for monitoring, control, and surveillance platforms at and around the northern maritime border to effectively combat this illicit activity.

In the battle against illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, over N$70 million was allocated last year within Namibia’s territorial waters.

Amukwa reiterated that the incident should serve as a serious warning to all fish pirates in Namibian waters.

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