Esau suspends fishing permit fee hike

Walvis Bay-Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Bernard Esau has confirmed that the plan to hike recreational fishing permits to N$1,500 has been suspended with immediate effect.

Esau during a breakfast meeting of the Namibia Fish Consumption Promotion Trust in Walvis Bay on Friday announced that the N$1,500 permit would be scrapped immediately and that the ministry will revert to the N$14 monthly fee for recreational fishing permits.

The fee for recreational fishing permits was increased in June from N$14 to N$1,500, a move for which the ministry came under fire from locals and visitors. The ministry was particularly singled out for criticism by subsistence fishermen at the coast.

On Friday, however, Minister Esau said he had requested the minister of justice to withdraw the notice, so that proper consolations can be conducted with all relevant stakeholders.

Yes, I've requested the minister of justice to withdraw Notice 158 that regulates recreational fishing permit fees for the time being.

As a minister I want to see democracy take place and thus proper consultation should also be done with the relevant stakeholders before we make a decision on such an increase.

Esau added that a new pricing structure for fees would be set up only after a process of consultation with all stakeholders, thus the N$14 price for recreational permits will remain in force for the time being.

Fishing experts last week also questioned the vastly increased recreational fishing levy, saying it was indeed a recipe for illegal fishing, as the ministry had increased the levy without considering the legal aspect.

The current fine for illegal fishing is N$300, which meant it would have been cheaper to pay the fine than for the permit.

Swakopmund-based subsistence fisherman Johannes van Wyk told New Era yesterday that he could not contain his joy when news of the old fees having been reinstated reached him on Friday. We are really thankful that the minister listened to our pleas and decided to consult with all of us before increasing the levy, he said.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia