Hake industry adopts second management plan
The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources has embarked upon a hake management plan, aimed at actively managing Namibia’s most valuable commercial species. The plan has been in implementation since the start of the month and will run the span of four years.
The Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Hon. Bernard Esau outlined the primary objective of the plan saying, “this management plan brings together in one document all relevant policies for the hake fishery. It explains how we will manage the hake fishery during the next few years and identifies where we would like the fishery to be in the future. The development of this management plan represents a new beginning in our fisheries.”
The ministry has at its disposal certain management strategies namely the total allowable catch, individual quotas, quota fees, by-catch fees, a number of technical measures and an observer system. These measures aim to protect the resource as well as the environment.
In the just-concluded hake management plan that was in effect from 2001 to 2004, the ministry identified five priority areas which formed the cornerstone of this policy. The top priority is the responsible and sustainable exploitation of the hake resource, followed by a minimal impact on the ecosystem, efficient and cost-effective management of the hake resource, benefits from the fishery must accrue to a large number of Namibians, and lastly, a stable and conducive business environment.
For the just-concluded management plan, the ministry identified a number of objectives for each goal. A set of strategies were linked to each objective to ensure that the objectives were pursued effectively during the time frame of the management plan and beyond. Each objective had an associated indicator or output which showed whether the strategy had been completed successfully. According to the ministry, the plan should be formally revised every three to five years. “This is the first management plan, meant to be reviewed after three years with a revised plan ready for the 2014/2015 fishing season. Any changes in legislation or international agreements may require a review of the management plan. One year before the plan ends, consultations with all stakeholders will begin in preparation for a new plan. A revised plan should be finalised several months before the end of the fishing season.”
The recently announced changes to the hake fishing season originated from these provisos in the first management plan. In his address, the minister announced that the hake season begins on 01 November each year and ends 30 September the next year. This was enacted towards the end of the first management plan.
Three species of hake occur in Namibian waters which include Benguela hake, deep-water hake and cape hake. Benguela hake only occurs in the southern limits of Namibian waters and the industry there hass generally no desire to exploit this species. The hake industry provides as much as 7,000 people with employment and is the largest employer in the fishing sector according to a ministerial report released in 2009 in which year 98% were Namibians, almost half were women, and 95% of the people in the industry were employed on a permanent basis.