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Fishing sector resilient despite drawbacks

Emerging from the global backfoot, the country’s fishing industry seems to be firm despite various setbacks as revealed in the annual fishing industry address on the state of the sector as well as its performance during the financial year 2013/2014 by the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources earlier this year in March.
The fisheries minister, Hon, Bernard Esau addressed the fishing sector in Walvis Bay to address concerns raised by private companies, and to provide the industry with a message of encouragement from the government following a very difficult operational and trade environment in 2013.
As an export-focused industry, the fishing sector benefited from the sharp deterioration in the exchange rate of the Namibia Dollar which started at the beginning of December 2013.
 Citing this as a positive turn for the beleaguered industry, the minister said “The year 2013 ended with the depreciation of the Namibian Dollar (N$) against major trading currencies (USD, Euro, Sterling/Pound and the Yen).

This weakening currency meant exchange rate for the Namibian Dollar against the main currencies stood at N$9.64 per US$, N$10.16 per Yen and N$12.81 per Euro and N$15.1 per Pound during the 2013 calendar year.”
“This coupled with general good catches, bigger fish sizes and favourable market prices for some fish meant good returns for our fish and fish products for the period under review,” he added.
But a depreciating currency poses operational risks to energy intensive industries and the fishing industry in general were hampered by the increase in cost for marine diesel.
“In 2013 the diesel price stood at N$11.11 which is an N$0.67c increase from the 2012 period. Considering the fact that most vessels use diesel, this meant an increase in the fishing industry’s offshore operational expenses with corresponding negative effect on the operating profit,” he said.
The minister said, “I am happy to note that despite various negative factors that have affected our fishing industry, the fishing sector remained resilient and continued to be one of the pillars of our national economy.
Reflecting on the sector’s contribution to overall economic activity the minister said, “The value of fish and fish products for 2012 is estimated to be around N5.2 billion while GDP contribution is put at 3.7% and 3.9% for 2011 and 2012 respectively.”
Despite a decline in total allowable catch (TAC) for some species the contribution of the fisheries sector to GDP generally showed  an upward trend and is forecast to slightly improve for 2013 at the back of global economic recovery.

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