The leader of the Landless People’s Movement (LPM), Bernadus Swartbooi, has expressed deep concern about the Namibian fishing industry which he feels has been under constant attack and in crisis because of illegal fishing by foreign vessels due to poor governmental policy implementation.
He was speaking at a media engagement in Windhoek this week where he discussed several issues surrounding the Namibian Fishing Industry, accountability structures in Namibia and the Southern Africa Development Community observer mission to the recent Zimbabwean elections.
According to Swartbooi, six to seven foreign fishing trawlers sailing under the Angolan flag are harvesting close to 100,000 tons of fish in Namibian waters.
He said illegal acts, are estimated to cost the country N$600 million per year because of poor policy implementation by the government.
“There is a failure from our government to act quickly and harshly on this matter,” he blamed.
Swartbooi highlighted that a report of 2017 given to the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, expressed a call to action concerning illegal fishing.
He said the report includes requests for policies to monitor and control foreign vessels in Namibian waters. The report also requested that surveillance platforms should be placed at and around the northern maritime border.
Swartbooi stated that the government has failed to act on this report and the requests therein.
Swartbooi stressed that illegal fishing in Namibian waters is devastating, not only because of the monetary losses but because of irreparable harm sustained by the ecosystem and other natural resources.
“The combination of the allocation of legal quotas and the biomass harvested through illegal fishing could lead to the collapse of the fishing industry and the breakdown of one of our biggest revenue generators,’ he stressed.
The parliamentarian stated that the government – while it should implement policies and regulate the fishing industry – has allocated itself the largest portion of the total allowable catch although it has no obligation to create jobs or to add value to the resource.
“These actions place a heavy burden on private fishing companies because all obligations fall to them,” he stated.
He urged the government to create and implement harsher policies, such as blacklisting, high fines and even the confiscation of vessels operating illegally in Namibian waters.