No fishing

Sharlien Tjambari

Subsistence fishermen at Swakopmund are up in arms over the “No Fishing” signs that dot the beach area between the Platz am Meer shopping centre and the Aquarium.
The signs became a bone of contention between the municipality of Swakopmund and these subsistence fishermen. The municipality answered the call of the public saying it is necessary to keep anglers off the beaches in the urban areas, as fishermen litter and gut their fish on the beach, leaving it smelly and filthy. The subsistence fishermen say they have not been properly consulted and cannot afford to fish beyond Mile 4 or at Langstrand, as they don’t have the means nor the money to get there. They take their chances now angling illegally on the beaches at Swakopmund, risking being slapped with hefty fines by fisheries inspectors.
“After the Jetty was closed for angling in 2017, the Swakopmund municipality decided to place the No Fishing signs on the entire stretch of beach between the new shopping mall and the Aquarium. That was without consulting the public, as if the sea belongs to them [the municipality].
In the past one could walk to the sea anywhere at Swakopmund and fish. Now, we can only do so if we are willing to risk angling illegally”, said on angler approached by namib times.
Other subsistence anglers say the closure of the jetty was a setback. Then came the No Fishing signs along the beach. Where can a person living in DRC go for fishing? Fishing is the only way to feed our families, either by consuming the fish or selling the fish”, they charge.
Another said: “I do not have a choice. I don’t have any transport to take me to Langstrand, or beyond Mile 4. I cannot afford to pay someone to come and fetch me with a car when I’m done fishing”, said another.
Aili Gebhardt, spokesperson for the municipality of Swakopmund said they are concerned about fishermen or anglers ignoring the sings. “The signs were placed there because the community complained about the fishermen. Especially during festive seasons when we have visitors and residents using these beaches for recreational purposes. Some clean their fish on the beach, leaving the fish gut to rot”, explained Gebhardt.
Gebhardt acknowledged some fishermen don’t have the means of transport to reach beach areas beyond Mile 4, but insisted the stretches of beach between the shopping centre and the jetty is a residential area. Fishing is prohibited there. Gebhardt added criminals often come to these beach areas pretending to be fishermen, but they turn out to using this disguise to identify homes they can burgle or members of the public they can rob.
The fishermen hope for a middle way. “There are parts of the year when it is too cold to swim or relax on the beaches. The beaches are deserted and then we can fish. The same goes for the jetty: if access is controlled we can fish from the jetty and sustain our families”, says Peter Beukes a seasoned subsistence fisherman.

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