Namsov Fishing is contemplating suspending the fishing tour of the vessel Jupiter due to a significant seasonal downturn in horse mackerel fishing.
The company’s general manager, Gerrie Hough, revealed this on Friday.
He expressed concern over the vessel’s dismal catches, which have been further compounded by the sharp increase in fuel prices.
“The seasonal downturn in horse mackerel fishing this year is so bad that we are in discussions at management level to halt the fishing tour of the Jupiter for the moment, until conditions at sea improve,” he said.
Horse mackerel plays a pivotal role in the fishing sector, making substantial contributions to the nation’s economy.
Addressing speculations regarding potential changes in Namsov Fishing’s ownership or corporate structure, Hough emphatically dismissed any notion of the company severing ties with Tunacor.
“I can only laugh at such claims. Namsov remains a subsidiary of the Tunacor group, and there are no changes or discussions regarding that matter,” he said.
Namsov Fishing, formerly a joint venture between Namibia and the Soviet Union, was once one of the largest suppliers of horse mackerel, and has been engaged in the fishing industry in Namibia since 1990.
The company was acquired by Tunacor from its previous owners, Bidvest Namibia, in 2018.
This move followed former minister of fisheries and marine resources Bernhard Esau’s decision to reduce fishing quotas in preceding years.
Cavema Fishing, which also catches freezer horse mackerel, says they too are experiencing low catches.
Company director Robert Shimooshili says the company is waiting for the ministry to inform the industry on the way forward.
“We are contemplating to stop, but we are hoping the government might do something,” he says.
Shimooshili says the company is hoping the government would relax the 200m isobath depth restriction based on the outcome of the ongoing study being conducted by the two wet-landed vessels.
Executive director of fisheries and marine resources Annely Haphene says the ministry is still busy with this study, which would take up to two years to complete.
“We will do three months in summer and three months in winter this year, and again next year. We will provide advice once all data is collected and assessment is done,” she says.
ANGOLA’S TROUBLING DISCOVERY
During the first semester of 2023, intensive scientific research conducted by Angolan authorities revealed a rapid decline in horse mackerel biomass. In response to this alarming trend, Carmen Evelise Van-Dúnem dos Santos, Angola’s minister of fisheries, signed an executive decree.
This decree involves the cancellation of fishing licences and the immediate withdrawal of vessels engaged in activities that contribute to increased fishing effort, such as fish transport.
The reduction in fishing licences will be determined based on the vessels’ year of manufacture and the severity of infractions committed.
The decree outlines a gradual conversion plan for pelagic trawl vessels equipped with on-board freezing systems (factory ships) to vessels equipped with fresh fish storage (refrigeration) systems over the next two years.