“Ray of hope” application will be turned down

The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernhard Esau, is set to make an announcement by next week if the application by “Welwitschia Aquatic and Wildlife Scientific Research” to harvest live marine animals for the Chinese aquarium trade has been approved or not. A recommendation in this regard was made by the office of the Permanent Secretary.
“I cannot divulge what the recommendation exactly entails. All I can say is that I believe everyone will be happy with the reply we will give,” said Dr. Moses Maurihungirire, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, yesterday to namib times.
The above-mentioned company lodged an application with the ministry earlier this year for the export of various live marine species for the Chinese aquarium trade. Since namib times first reported on this the news has made head-lines with various environmental organisations across the globe. The company intends to invest N$30 million, which will include the equipment, vessel and boats to start the operation, and thereafter “harvest excessive marine mammals and other sea based fish type such as cetaceans, pinnipeds and penguins.”
Dr Maurihungirire confirmed that such an application was indeed lodged and that it is not the first of its kind. “We received a similar application for the export of live (Cape fur) seals to China a few years back and that one was not approved,” he said. According to him a scientific enquiry was launched after the application was lodged, which considered various aspects. His office has made a recommendation which is now in the hands of the Minister. “He will inform the company on the outcome next week,” Dr Maurihungirire said.
During the scientific enquiry various aspects regarding the application were taken into consideration, amongst others the fact that some of the species applied for export are protected under CITES, a multilateral treaty to protect endangered plants and animals. “Some of the animals in our waters are not available in tremendous numbers and most are on CITES Appendix 1 and Appendix 2,” he said.
When asked about the controversial vessel “Ryazanovka”, which is currently in the port of Walvis Bay and apparently the vessel intended for the operation, Dr Maurihungirire said: “Maybe it is the intention to intimidate Government but that won’t influence our decision. If I were them I would have left the vessel at home and have waited if approval would be granted in the first place,” he said.
In the original application by the company it states that “the Chinese market for such a venture is enormous and the demand currently stands at “ten killer whales per year; 50-100 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins; 50-100 heads of Common bottlenose dolphins; 500-1000 Cape Fur Seals; 300-500 penguins; and various sharks (sic).”

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