Fish permits back to the old levy

Many coastal residents rejoiced and inundated the permit offices at the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources on Friday, after news broke that the price of fishing permits have been reverted to N$14 per month or N$168 per year.
Recreational fishing permits were increased drastically in July to N$1500 per month. The increase to N$1500 sparked national and international outrage. Locals said it was unaffordable and foreigners said they would remove Namibia as an angling holiday destination. Even when the Ministry introduced an option of N$50 per day permits, price resistance persisted.
The announcement of the return to “normal” fees was made by Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Bernhard Esau on Friday in Walvis Bay, at the launch of the 6th Namibia National Fish Consumption Promotion Trust Day.
In the briefing, the Minister said he recalled Government Gazette Notice 158 regulating recreational fishing permit fees. “As a Minister, I want to see democracy take place. A new pricing structure for fees will be formed only after a process of consultation with all stakeholders,” he was reported as saying.
Once the news broke on social media on Friday, many avid fishermen stormed the permit offices in Swakopmund. Many opted to acquire a recreational fishing permit valid for six months or an entire year in case the Ministry increases the price again.
The number of permits sold since on Friday could not be established, as permits are currently being hand-written and therefore no database inquiries can take place. The electronic system, which captures all data, was temporarily halted when the prices were increased a few weeks ago. By yesterday, the system at the permit offices was still offline, making the handing out of permits by hand a tedious and time-consuming task.
And then there is another side of the coin too: “Business was extremely good on Friday,” said the owner to namib times of the Burger Joint, located across the street from the Swakopmund permit office. The number of people queuing to acquire a recreational permit was unexpected, but soon the delicious smell of the hamburgers overcame the people waiting for permits. He was sold out of burgers early in the day.
According to one of the employees at the permit office in Swakopmund, the drastic price increase did not necessarily have a surprisingly big impact on the sale of recreational fishing permits. Mostly tourists from South Africa forked out the exorbitant amount of N$1500 to receive a permit valid for an entire month. “I do not think there will now be a refund for these people,” the employee said.
Whilst many fishermen rejoiced at the news of the reductions, various stakeholders remain focused on drawing up proposals for the ministry to determine the way forward regarding the price of recreational fishing permits. They wish to prevent another drastic price increase and rather suggest a staggered increase of the permit/levy over a certain period.

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