Hake Season Change Considered

A PROPOSAL by the hake sector to change the annual hake season from the long existing 1 May-30 April, to 1 November-30 September is being considered by all key stakeholders for the possible phasing in as from this year.

Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Bernhard Esau met with industry right holders, government scientists and economists at Walvis Bay yesterday to consider how to implement the proposal and eventually agree on the change. The meeting spearheads a series of gatherings to be held this week between the minister and the fishing industry.

Namibian Hake Association Chairman Matti Amukwa thanked Esau for considering the “long awaited changes in the fishing season”.

Namibia’s hake sector is the employment backbone in the country’s fishing industry, with more than 10 000 jobs.

Amukwa said the rationale of the proposal to change the season, saying that the aantages are mainly related to cost reduction.

He said moving the season will eliminate the burden of stopping entire fleets to change licenses at the end of April.

“This is a very expensive and complicated exercise for the land-based factories, which need raw materials on a daily basis. By changing the season to start on 1 October, [we] will remove the cost of stopping twice for the whole industry,” he said.

According to him, once the change is implemented, the industry will stop fishing on 30 September, and during the October closure, companies will have one month to change and prepare vessels for new fishing year licenses so they can go back to sea on 1 November.

Another aantage is that it will reduce time pressure for the staff of the fisheries ministry to issue the licenses.

“The rush and difficulties experienced by the ministry and industry to re-license all vessels in just two or three days at the end of April or beginning March are well known. Under the new fishing year, there will be ample time during the October closure to issue the new licenses,” Amukwa explained.

The change in season will also, according to him, reduce time pressure for the scientists to assist and recommend hake total allowable catches (TAC) for the following fishing year. He said that with a later start in the season, scientific surveys will still occur in January or February to maintain scientific continuity, but there will then also be the flexibility of a much longer period for all involved to effectively assist results of the survey before setting the TAC for the new season.

“From the industry’s side we are convinced that this is a win-win change for all stakeholders and we look forward to the successful implementation thereof,” Amukwa concluded.

Esau said the matter has been a point of discussion for some time, but “we have never come to a conclusion whereby at least we can take the matter forward after the conclusion”.

“We need to be time-conscious – to zero in and see what is the best we can do to get to a common understanding. I want to start implementing this specific issue. We are a dynamic sector. We are not static, we change with time and as time changes, there are also factors that influence our decisions and policies,” Esau said.

Source : The Namibian