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Fish stocks are declining, challenging the government's plan to employ former fishermen at sea.

Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Derek Klazen said this in response to questions by Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) MP Mike Venaani, who sought an update on challenges, sustainability efforts, and future plans for Namibia's fishing industry. 

Venaani's inquiries underscore the need for transparency and effective solutions to the fishing industry's challenges.

The programme was launched in 2020 to provide socio-economic relief to former fishermen who lost their jobs due to strikes and retrenchment.

The programme, however, faces sustainability issues due to declining fish stocks.

Minister Klazen stated that this is in addition to the resistance of former fishermen to work in positions other than at sea and the demand for an increase in wages and benefits.

"These demands are unrealistic given the fact that the jobs previously occupied by former fishermen were taken by Namibians when this group of former fishermen were separated from their respective employers."

Ongoing demonstrations and petitions by the fishermen seek new fishing rights and quotas and raise concerns about resource management.

However, the ministry is cautious about this approach, emphasising the need to balance employment demands with the sustainable management of fisheries resources.

The Ministries of Fisheries and Labour continue to address these concerns by seeking information on vacant positions within the industry.

"When this outcry was so great, the Minister of Labour and I went to Walvis Bay, and we addressed these fishermen. We wrote a letter to the Confederation Association of Fishing and asked them to forward this letter that I wrote to them of the industry of fisheries to ask the fishing industry to indicate to the ministry of fisheries if there is any vacant in the fishing industry that is now on fishing vessels as well as factories. We have received some and are waiting on others to still respond to us so we can see how we can take it further from there."

The government remains committed to supporting former fishermen while ensuring the long-term viability of Namibia's fisheries industry.

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Author
Martha Mwafangeyo