The Namibian (Windhoek)

15 June 2012

Namibia: Bigger Quotas 'Not a Threat to Fish'

THIS year's total allowable catches (TACs) for hake and monkfish are 30 per cent and 40 per cent higher than scientists have recommended to Fisheries and Marine Resources Minister Bernard Esau.

However, Esau is confident that his decision not to heed the scientific advice and recommendations from the Marine Resource Advisory Council will not disrupt the balance of Namibia's marine species.

The scientists advised that the hake quota be set at 130 000 tons, while the Advisory Council recommended 140 000 tons. The Minister decided on 170 000 tons.

In terms of the Fisheries Act the Minister may set his own quota after all relevant information has been taken into consideration.

The scientists based their recommendations on the fact that the hake stock has reduced in terms of both fishable and non-fishable biomass, which is the opposite of what happened the previous year.

However, Esau said he also consulted with economists and went through reports of the past years and found that the recommendations by the scientists and the Advisory Council were not in line with previous TACs.

"That does not mean that I do not take their advice but during the previous season the catches and landing of fish were good and there were no major changes in conditions in the sea.

"I also have to ensure that we do not land in the same situation as was the case in the 2010 season, when an additional hake quota of 30 000 tons had to be allocated. We have to make sure that the quota is of such a nature that it will take the fishing right holders through the year. Keep in mind that we have granted new fishing rights for hake and monk."

In the case of monk the scientists and the Advisory Council recommended a TAC of 10 000 tons, but Esau decided on a TAC of 14 000 tons.

The scientists indicated a healthy stock of monkfish, but one that it is at maximum sustainable yield.

The estimated total revenue that will be generated from the payment of quota fees for monk will be N$7,5 million and for hake N$48,7 million.

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