Oyster producers criticise Fisheries Ministry for “over reaction” every time shellfish test positive for DSP

Several oyster producers at the coast expressed dissatisfaction over the weekend with the latest warning by the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources against the consuming of oysters, after samples tested this shellfish unfit for human consumption.

Although only one oyster farm at the Walvis Bay Aqua Park tested positive for Diarrhetic Shell-fish Poisoning (DSP), the ministry nonetheless instituted a blanket ban on the sale and export of oysters even at the Swakopmund Salt Pans.
DSP these producers charge is highly territorial with only very small areas affected at a time. To close down the entire industry from Swakopmund to Walvis Bay, stakeholders argue, is unrealistic and unfair.
“A batch of oysters of my oyster farm passed the testing at the Namibia Standards Institution (NSI) on Friday, the same day as the blanket ban. How fair is it against my business”, says the owner of Namoyster Mr. Fanie Dreyer.
His sentiment echoes that of other oyster farmers who said to put a blanket closure on the entire mariculture industry is an over reaction.
“If our oysters pass the testing, but the ministry can close the industry at will because of a small area affected by DSP what is the need for this expensive NSI-testing in the first place?”
“If you have a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak at a farm at Gobabis do you close the entire livestock farming industry of Namibia”, one producer asked using this metaphor to drive his point home.
Oyster farmers asked for better understanding between the private sector stakeholders and Government on mariculture.
None of the oyster farmers questioned the fact that the ministry issues warnings and bans on shellfish from time to time when tests confirm the presence of DSP.
“Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP) produces gastrointestinal symptoms, usually beginning within 30 minutes to a few hours after con-sumption of toxic shellfish.
Although not fatal, the illness is characterised by incapacitating diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain”, the Ministry said in a statement on Friday.
“We have understanding for these bans from time to time because it keeps the public safe and protects the integrity of our product, but we need a balanced approach,” it was explained.
The Chief Fisheries Biologist: Aquaculture of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources yesterday referred all inquiries to the public relations department of the ministry, but was willing to divulge that a meeting is scheduled to take place on Friday with acquaculture stakeholders.
∙An indication yesterday was the ban would be lifted some time today, as DSP clears itself up with days.

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