“A complete mess”

Licensed ski-boats are allowed to destroy line fish resources whilst fisheries inspectors’ hands are tied

Staff members of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources at the coast are furious about the ongoing rape of Namibia’s line fish resources, all the while whilst fisheries legislation protects licensed angling ski-boat operators.

Several of these ministerial staff members spoke on condition of anonymity with Namib Times this week, expressing their sheer frustration with senior Government decision makers which up to now failed to introduce proper legislation to curb the activities of licensed ski-boat operators.
“This is a complete mess. Unlicensed ski-boat operators are allowed to fish, but these operators are controlled by recreational angling regulations. That means a daily bag limit per angler, size limit and each angler must have a permit”, explained one high frustrated official.
Adding the commercially licensed ski-boats (these vessels have a distinct registration number starting with the letter “L”) does not have to adhere to angling regulations.
“The operators can catch as many fish as they want. They can catch any size and they can go out as many times a day as they wish. These operators are destroying our line fish resources and we as fisheries staff and inspectors are blamed by the public that we don’t do our work”, said a very frustrated official this week. He too could only speak on condition of anonymity.
The proverbial spark in the powder keg came earlier this when a spectacle played itself off at the public fish cleaning facility at the Walvis Bay lagoon. A licensed ski-boat’s crew cleaned hundreds of large cob at this facility, turning the area into a revolting, macabre site for pas-sing visitors and locals alike. Blood and fish gut covered the area including the walkway, leaving it a smelly mess.
The public outcry that followed spared no one. Fisheries staff were scolded for not performing their duties. Recreational anglers, that is both surf anglers and recreational ski-boat owners, were randomly attacked on social media and slammed as the culprits too.
As the issue unfolded in public and among staff of the ministry of fisheries and marine resources, mostly on social media, the following points were argued. Points at least on angling association wants to include in a petition to fisheries minister Dr. Albert Kawana.
1. Licensed ski-boat operators must be limited in terms of the number of fish, size of fish and permit per crew member – the same like recreational anglers and ski-boat operators.
That must be achieved by the amendment of existing legislation and a regulation.
2. The ministry should review all commercial fishing licenses of ski-boat operators. Ministerial staff at fisheries has not only experienced the number of licenses issued “skyrocketing”, but there are licenses which are somewhat “suspicious”. Reference was made to one commercial license in Swakopmund that has been issued under the Hanganeni small-scale line fish project at Henties Bay, but it is operating in Swakopmund.
3. Recreational anglers are also asking a few critical questions. The recreational angling of cob is not allowed between Pelican Point and the border with Sandwich Harbour in the period 1 January to 31 March of each year. Yet, commercial ski-boats are targeting cob at will during the same period in the same area. Anglers called this week for the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources to declare the area open again as it is unfair and it seems the cob resource has now recovered to warrant recreational fishing in the area throughout the year.
“They can rape the cob resources at sea, but we must preserve it on land as surf anglers. This irrational”, summed up a few anglers the situation.

4. From a business point of view, the current situation is equally irrational. The fact that the area between Pelican Point and the border is closed for cob fishing from 1 January to 31 March each year has killed the annual “cob run”. Every year anglers visited Walvis Bay from as far afield as South Africa to be part of the cob run. “These anglers booked in guesthouses, spend money on food, drinks, fuel, bait and angling accessories. Now that it is closed, the business has ended. Yet commercial licensed ski-boats can take dozens of tons of fish, unchecked and unregulated”, explained a local businessman.

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