Govt. to establish fish-protected areas

WINDHOEK: The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) will establish Fish-Protected Areas (FPAs) in this financial year in order for communities and conservancies to guard their local fisheries’ resources from exploitation.

The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) Bernard Esau made the announcement during his budget motivation speech in Parliament on Tuesday.

The MFMR requested N.dollars 368 million for the 2014/2015 financial year.

“The sustainable utilisation of our inland fisheries’ resources is a high priority for our ministry, and we commit ourselves to the continuous monitoring of the inland fisheries’ resources in order to determine fish catches as well as the biological diversity and health of the resources,” he noted.

Esau expressed concern about the number of fishermen who still take advantage of the vastness of the freshwater fisheries’ areas, especially in the Kavango East and Kavango West regions.

However, the ministry will continue to undertake special operations like the one carried out over the Okavango River in November 2013.

Local media reported in March this year that about 200 foreign fishermen appeared in the Katima Mulilo Magistrate’s Court, and were charged with illegal fishing there.

Most of the suspects were Zambians, with a few Angolans and Zimbabweans.

Esau said the capture and subsistence of inland fisheries from rivers, lakes and oshanas in the Zambezi, Kavango, Oshana, Ohangwena, Oshikoto and Omusati regions play an important role in the daily lives of rural communities.

The fishing season in the Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshikoto and Oshana regions was severely affected by the drought during the 2012/2013 season as no seasonal flooding occurred during that rainy season.

Oshanas did not receive water, which severely affected the capture of fish from these natural resources.

The capture of fish in the Zambezi and Kavango regions continue to contribute to food security and income-generation throughout the year.

The Katima fish market sold 1 963 tonnes of fish during 2012/2013, with an estimated value of N.dollars 15 million.

The fish yield from the Zambezi Region floodplains is estimated at 5 340 tonnes per annum (about N.dollars 41 million), with the majority coming from Lake Liambezi.

Esau said it is difficult to monitor the sale of fish from Lake Liambezi as not all of it is sold at the Katima fish market.

The ministry is further considering the strengthening of the monitoring, controlling and surveillance (MCS) programme in the two Kavango regions to ensure the effective enforcement of inland fisheries’ legislation.

Joint operations between fisheries’ inspectors and other Namibian law-enforcement agencies will also be considered during the course of 2014/2015.

In addition, Esau commended the Ministry of Justice for responding to his ministry’s request to grand fisheries’ inspectors with the status of peace officers in terms of the Criminal Procedures’ Act.

Other activities planned for this financial year include the implementation of a closed fishing season during the breeding season; and the strengthening of partnerships in several trans-boundary management initiatives with riparian states such as Botswana, Zambia and Angola to monitor the impact of fishing on the shared inland fisheries’ resources efficiently.