Namibia’s pelagic fishing sector has been slammed with a zero industrial fish quota for 2014, presumably stemming from last year’s season in which operators were unable to catch industrial fish as the biomass remained mixed with high volumes of pilchard.
On the positive side, the sector received a 25 000 metric tonnes pilchard total allowable catch for the 2014 fishing season, and a further 5 000 metric tonnes that lies in reserve for the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernhardt Esau to issue at his sole discretion.
Pelagic operators concentrate on sardinella, anchovy and inshore (juvenile) horse mackerel that are classified as industrial fish species. The pelagic sector relies on some 35 000 metric tonnes of industrial fish quotas each year, mainly processed into fishmeal. Albeit, both the Namibian Government and the pelagic sector remain committed to the conservation of the country’s volatile pilchard biomass and does not target industrial fish in situations where the biomasses remains intermixed with pilchard biomass.
“We have confidence that the decision for a zero industrial fish quota has to do with the 2013 situation in which the pelagic sector could not effectively target industrial fish as we are penalised if the catches exceed a certain ratio of pilchard,” said an industry worker.
It is expected that Minister Esau would reveal the rationale for the decision of a zero industrial fish quota later this year during his traditional annual address of the fishing industry.
Pilchard catches are expected to commence around Easter when hopes are high for suitable weather and oceanic conditions for pilchard catches. Meanwhile, the mid-water trawl industry, targeting horse mackerel, was also informed in an official directive by the Ministry of Fisheries that the sector was granted a 350 000 metric tonnes horse mackerel quota for 2014. Of this a total of 102 200 metric tonnes lies in reserve and is only available for exploitation upon discretion of the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources.