Only two vessels will be allowed to do a fishing experiment inside and outside the 200-meter restricted zone near Walvis Bay.

The Executive Director of the Fisheries and Marine Resources Ministry, Annely Haiphene, says the experiment does not mean the industry is granted permission to fish in the restricted zone. Haiphene clarified various allegations about the ministry allowing the industry to catch fish in the restricted zone. The Wet Landed Horse Mackerel Association last year asked the government to allow companies to fish within the restricted zone as there were claims that larger-sized horse mackerel migrate to shallow waters.

At a media conference at Walvis Bay, Haiphene stated that the ministry could not ignore the association's request, which is why Cabinet was approached to authorise an experiment to collect data.

"I want to make it very clear when we are saying we are doing experiments; in fact, out there they are saying we allowed fishing to take place in the 200 meter. This is not correct; it's an experiment that is done jointly between the industry and the ministry, and so far we have only agreed to have two vessels, one trawling inside the 200 and the other outside, because we want to compare the data to see what will come out because it is an experiment so that we can then confirm or refute the claim that the bigger fish moved or migrated into the 200 meters."

The Executive Director stressed that this is not the first time for Namibia, as a series of experiments took place in 1995, 2002, and 2007.

The experiments, she says, were done in collaboration with the industry by using two vessels, and the results found no justification to allow fishing to take place in the forbidden zone.

"The experiment is going to be undertaken for two years because the claim is that during winter the fish migrate into the shallow water, so we are now going to do three months in winter, three months in summer, and again next year, three months in winter and three months in summer, and then thereafter, we will have enough data to say that we will do an assessment and provide advice."

The restriction of fishing activities in the 200-meter zone brought disagreements between the labor unions, the wet-landed horse mackerel sector, and the Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations, who presented their opposing views last year. 

The confederation indicated that fishing in the area would kill the breeding grounds for other commercial species.



Renathe Rengura