DRASTIC steps are needed to get rid of fish pirates with foreign flagged or unregistered fishing vessels that operate in Namibia’s Exclusive Economic Zone which is costing the country billions of dollars in potential revenue each year.
The recent arrest of five fishing vessel captains and the fact that the Heinaste fishing vessel was impounded in the port of Walvis Bay shed new light on the practice of Illegal Unreported and Unregulated fishing operations in Namibian waters.
The acting Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Dr. Albert Kawana, said IUU fishing is costing Namibia billions of dollars in potential revenue and that the country through its law enforcement and security agencies will take more aggressive steps to fight the scourge of IUU fishing practices in the country’s economic zone.
“We have patrol vessels that need to be sent out to protect the country’s marine resources. We already have aircraft patrolling the coast regularly but some of the illegal vessels still manage to slip through the net.”
He said the arrest of the Heinaste in the port of Walvis Bay is part of the process to fight IUU fishing. According to Dr. Kawana the matter with the super trawler and her captain is still under investigation and that the future of the vessel will be determined by the outcome of the investigation.
It is estimated that Illegal Unreported and Unregulated fishing accounts for roughly US$23 billion in lost revenue for countries around the world. IUU fishing undermines national and regional efforts to conserve and manage fish stocks, according to the Food and Agricultural Organisation.
Namibia also committed to ensuring that at least ten percent of its Exclusive Economic Zone is gazetted as a marine protected area by 2020.
In the case of the Heinaste it is a well known fact that catches were under reported and that a large portion of its catches were transhipped to cargo vessels at sea. Only a fraction of the catches were landed and processed on shore in Namibia.
It is estimated that the unreported catches which was transhipped to cargo vessels at sea cost Namibia an estimated N$2.5 billion in revenue.
Pictured: Frozen fish being transhipped from the Heinaste fishing trawler to a cargo vessel at sea. – Photo: Contributed