Rock lobster stocks ‘worrisome’ – The Namibian
NAMIBIA’S rock lobster stocks are in a “poor state”, and the future of this resource is “worrisome” indicate findings by Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources scientists, said minister Derek Klazen during his annual address to the fishing industry at Walvis Bay recently.
Klazen said the pressure exerted on rock lobster stock, predominantly at Lüderitz, is “too high”.
“We have observed that up to 80% of undersized lobsters are still being caught and remedial actions are, therefore, required in order to avoid this stock from collapsing,” said Klazen.
“It is quite worrisome.”
Cabinet in September set the total allowable catch (TAC), of rock lobster at 180 tonnes. However, new right holders get only four tonnes each.
Klazen stated that this is a far cry of the 900 tonnes or higher TAC from earlier decades and only half of what it was a decade ago.
“The people of Lüderitz are very dependent on this resource, and doing business from there is much more expensive than here. We have to assess how we can assist them,” he noted.
Positive news is that monk and crab stock levels are at biologically sustainable levels. The monk stock has seen a 2% increase in total biomass to 70 000 tonnes. Cabinet approved a monk TAC of 7 200 tonnes.
Klazen said that the stock assessment results for the hake showed that the overall stock biomass has increased by 22% to approximately 2,5 million tonnes. However, Klazen stated that this spawning biomass remains below the biomass that can produce a maximum sustained yield. Cabinet approved the hake TAC of 154 000 tonnes for 2022/2023 fishing season.
Klazen stated that while the stock assessment results showed that horse mackerel’s current spawning biomass is sustainable, but that the level of recruitment is below long-term average.
According to the March 2022 scientific survey, stock levels have dropped dramatically.
Additionally, the size of fish has been declining over the past 50 years, so that the midwater fishery catches are now largely made up of smaller fish.
The TAC for horse mackerel has been set at 330 000 tons for the current season.
The pilchard stocks remain in a precarious situation (as they have been for almost a ten-year period). Therefore, the ministry has continued the moratorium to allow for monitoring and research. Once the stock has reached a level that is biologically sustainable, this fishery will reopen.
Klazen was pleased with the long-fin tuna yield this year, compared to previous underperformance years, which had affected Namibia’s access to this international resource, managed and managed by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna. ICCAT is responsible for the conservation of all tuna and similar species in the Atlantic Ocean.
“For the first time we harvested our quota for tuna this year. While this is good news, I am also cognisant that we have overcaught the quota, which is really a concern for ICCAT, and urge you to adhere to our allocated quota in the future.”
As for Namibia’s Cape fur seal population, chairperson of the Walvis Bay Chamber of Commerce Johnny Doesëb said that it was about time Namibia’s fisheries ministry robustly engaged scientists, environmental conservationists and activists, and the private sector, on a cohesive approach to save the fishing industry from being plundered by seals.
“If we allow the seal population to grow like this, the sustainability of this industry and the investments made by the industries will be in vain,” he warned.
Klazen stated that the seal population continues its growth because the pup TAC wasn’t landed over the past year. Namibia, as a country adhering to international best practice, is guided by international instruments which call for sustainable exploitation and scientific evidence of fisheries resources. To achieve this, the ministry started collecting data to enable stock assessment as well as guide TAC allocation for bulls.
Cabinet approved in June a seal TAC for 60 000 pups, and 8 000 bulls, during the 2022 fishing seasons, which runs from July to mid November.