WINDHOEK, December 2 — Namibia’s Minister of Fisheries, Derek Klazen, has expressed deep concern over the escalating issue of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing along the country’s coastal line. The unabated plundering of Namibia’s marine resources poses a significant threat, with neighbouring countries also implicated in these illicit activities both inland and at sea.
In a candid address to the fishing industry, Minister Klazen underscored the persistent challenges posed by both coastal and inland illegal activities, labelling them as a substantial headache for the government. The impact of illegal fishing extends beyond immediate revenue loss, disrupting sustainable management systems established for the harvesting and safeguarding of natural resources.
Klazen also voiced profound concern about the involvement of citizens from neighbouring countries in illegal fishing and announced plans to engage counterparts in harmonizing laws and enforcement measures. The minister emphasized that such illicit activities have far-reaching consequences, affecting not only Namibia but also the broader marine ecosystem.
In response to the escalating issue, the ministry has decided to allocate up to 50% of its control, monitoring, and surveillance sea operations to the northern border with the Republic of Angola. Minister Klazen expressed optimism that these efforts will result in a tangible reduction in IUU fishing activities.
The Confederation of Namibian Fishing Associations (CNFA) disclosed that Namibia is haemorrhaging over N$1.5 billion annually due to IUU fishing activities. CNFA Chairperson Matti Amukwa highlighted the urgency for intervention to halt illegal fishing, calling for immediate action against well-known IUU vessels. Amukwa stressed that relying on other countries’ governments is insufficient to combat the pilferage of Namibia’s resources.
Illegal fishing in Namibia’s northern waters has persisted since 2015, with a 2017 report on IUU by the ministry concluding that combating IUU requires deploying monitoring, control, and surveillance platforms at and around the northern maritime border. Foreign vessels, predominantly harvesting horse mackerel, disregard the 200m isobath line, resulting in the capture of other species such as hake, kingklip, and dentex. These illicitly caught fish are not considered in determining the total allowable catch (TAC) for quota species, posing a risk of overfishing and fishery collapse.
Namibia faces a critical juncture in addressing IUU fishing, with government and industry stakeholders collaborating to safeguard the country’s valuable marine resources. Ongoing efforts aim to ensure the sustainability of aquatic living resources and uphold the credibility of Namibia’s fishery sector. The minister’s announcements reflect a proactive approach to counter the challenges posed by illegal fishing, emphasizing the need for immediate and coordinated action to protect Namibia’s marine ecosystem and the livelihoods of those dependent on the fishing industry.