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China slowdown's impact on Namibia

Photo: WEF

China, the world's second largest economy, has been undergoing an economic slowdown that is likely to persist until the end of the year, and Namibia is affected too.


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      Klazen clarifies issue of foreign patrol vessel

      by Matthew Dlamini


      THE Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources will leave no stone unturned in its fight to protect the country's resources under its care.

      This was said by fisheries minister Derek Klazen in a statement issued in reaction to alleged claims on social media that the government was wasting taxpayers' money renting a foreign vessel, the Ocean Warrior, for patrols while its own vessels were “rotting in the harbours”.

      Klazen said the Ocean Warrior had come to Namibia under an agreement with the Stop Illegal Fishing (SIF) and Sea Shepherd Global (SSG) organisations because of an upsurge in illegal unreported unregulated (IUU) fishing in Namibian waters.

      “Through the agreement, SSG provided the Ocean Warrior, a civilian offshore patrol vessel and its crew at their cost (covering all expenses of the vessel, including oil and food for all on board) and the government only covered the salaries of the law enforcement officers on board and provided parking facilities,” he said.

      SIF is an independent non-profit organisation with its headquarters in Gaborone, Botswana, which is involved in the fight to end the devastating impacts of illegal fishing in Africa.

      SSG is an international non-profit marine wildlife conservation organisation headquartered in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. It assists coastal states with insufficient capacity to fight IUU activities by providing such states with a civilian patrol vessel to combat IUU activities in their waters.

      Since independence, Namibia has been plagued by the challenge of illegal fishing off its coast by foreign vessels. Some of these vessels had been plundering Namibian fish even before independence in 1990.

      Former acting fisheries minister Albert Kawana, in 2019, said IUU was costing the country billions of dollars a year in potential revenue and that the country, through its law enforcement and security agencies, would take more aggressive steps to fight the scourge of IUU fishing practices in the country's economic zone.

      Kawana was commenting on the seizure of the Heinaste in the port of Walvis Bay, as part of the fight against IUU fishing.

      The Heinaste was suspected of under-reporting catches and transshipping a large portion of its catch to cargo vessels at sea and only landing a fraction of the catch for processing onshore in Namibia.

      Its captain, Angrimur Brynjolfsson (67), later pleaded guilty to three charges related to illegal fishing in Namibian waters.

      It is estimated that the unreported catches, which were transhipped to cargo vessels at sea, cost Namibia an estimated N$2,5 billion in revenue at that time.

      In 2020, six Chinese vessels were seized by fisheries officials and the Namibian navy on suspicions of illegal fishing in Namibian waters.

      Klazen said IUU fishing undermines the ministry's efforts to guarantee the sustainability of fisheries and the management of marine resources.

      “Under the stewardship of the ministry, the fishing industry supports the livelihood of so many Namibians, and contributes immensely to other sectors of the economy.

      “It is, therefore, imperative that individuals refrain from creating and disseminating misleading content for political and other deceitful intentions,” said Klazen.

      He said last December, the fisheries patrol vessel, the Nathaniel Maxuilili, was incapacitated due to a major engine breakdown, which would take a long time to repair.

      “The other patrol vessel, the Anna Kakurukaze Mungunda, though operational, was also scheduled for her biennial maintenance soon and this will take her out of operations,” said the minister.

      He added that the resultant reduced patrolling capacity had prompted the ministry to approach SSG for assistance to ensure continued monitoring and patrolling of the Namibian maritime space.

      “An agreement between the ministry and the SSG was signed in March 2022 for the provision of the Ocean Warrior for the fight against IUU fishing in Namibian waters,” said Klazen.


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