Seals a threat to the Namibian fishing industry

Martin Endjala

The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Derek Klassen has reiterated that the management of Seals in the sea is not as easy as people make it out to be, as one adult seal is said to feed on 3.8 kg tons of fish daily, meaning that 1.5 million seals would eat 5,7 million Kg, 5 700 metric tons of fish per day and 2,8 million metric tons of fish per year.

This amount is approximately four times more than the annual combined Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for hake, horse mackerel and monk per year.

“The issue of management of Seals is not as simple as it may be portrayed to be. In terms of Namibian law, Seals are classified as marine resources and should ideally be managed similar to all other marine resources”. Klassen said this during his response to the motion tabled in parliament recently by RDP President Mike Kavekotora on Namibian fish stocks facing depletion as a result of seals stock proliferation.

“Our fish is facing depletion if remedial actions are not taken as a matter of urgency”, the motion read.

However, according to the international fisheries management fraternity, of which Namibian fisheries management law is entangled in other fisheries management Conventions to which Namibia is a party, International Fisheries Management Conventions and Agreements to which many developing states including Namibia are members to, it makes the management of seals in Namibia particularly complicated Klassen argued.

According to Klaasen, international environmentalist groups and consumers, particularly in Western countries pose challenges to national, sovereign fisheries management efforts.

He added that Namibian Seals are listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) as a threatened species.

This listing on the CITES Appendix II means that the species is not necessarily threatened with extinction, but trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization that is incompatible with their survival.

Since independence in 1990, Namibia was estimated to have had a seal’s population of approximately 350 000 individuals. At present, the current Seals population in Namibia is estimated to be between 1,5 – 2 million individuals or even more.

Hence, Klassen stresses that it is not the number of Seals in Namibia that is a concern, it is more the quantities of fish that the seals eat per day.

Furthermore stressed that the amount of fish estimated to be consumed by seals per year is simply unacceptable.

“However, speaking to Seals conservationists and environmentalists their opinion appears to be simply based on that Seals do not eat salads and pastas like humans do, they only eat fish, therefore let them eat as much fish as they are able to find in the waters”, said the Minister.

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