By Marshallino Beukes
EMOTIONS ran high on Friday at a fishermen’s workshop initiated by Swakopmund Municipality when Chief Fisheries Inspector Chris Tempo seemingly focused mainly on ski-boat owners who fish off the Swakopmund shore.
Tempo, among others, accused some ski-boat operators of exploiting poor subsistence fishermen and remunerating them with a meagre N$70 per day. These fishermen are supposedly misused to get personal daily fishing permits (which allow for ten fish per person per day) and then use the permits to fish for the ski-boat owners.
He further noted that some ski-boat owners go out to sea without the proper fishing permits and only acquire it when they get back to shore. Tempo said operating in this manner is illegal. He went on to complain that the regulation of ski-boat catches is of great concern, as some commercial ski-boat operators apparently catch any number of fish they can get away with.
Other challenges that fisheries inspectors are experiencing, according to Tempo, includes the fact that most fishermen do not respect them in the execution of their duties, adding that the inspectors have the power to arrest culprits as they now have the status of peace officers.
Small-scale fishermen were also not spared, with Tempo accusing them of destroying evidence when approached by fisheries inspectors. He warned that on-the-spot fines were only applicable for amounts not exceeding N$1,000. A fine more than the said amount will see perpetrators arrested and charged on the spot.
Tempo further stressed that fishermen should be in possession of a fishing permit, relevant to the day and time they are fishing. Another challenge they face is the sale or bartering of fish to businesses by recreational fishermen, which by law is illegal.
Pollution along the coastline is also of concern, as some fishermen behind rubbish, like plastic bags and empty bottles on the spot they were fishing from.
He also noted that some residents at Long Beach, Dolphin Park and in the vicinity of the Mole, Platz Am Meer Mall and Mile 4 are putting up structures on beach areas, thus obstructing fisheries inspectors from executing their duties when on patrol. He fumed that these residents act like they “own the land” and urged the relevant municipalities to look into the matter.
The harvesting of rock lobster along the coastlines has historically been a thorn in the flesh of fisheries inspectors and Tempo emphasised that the harvesting of rock lobster is only allowed from 1 May until 31 October annually.
He added that harvested rock lobster measuring less than 65mm should not be harvested as it is under-sized and should be measured within 15 minutes after retrieval from the water. He expressed disappointment in the poor attendance of fishermen at the workshop, which was said to be due to the fact that it was poorly advertised and also because most fishermen were out at sea during the day.
The chairperson of the Benguella Ski boat Association, Ian Izaacs, responded that their Association remunerates their employees justly and asked Tempo if they (fisheries inspectors) even approached and consulted ski-boat owners prior the meeting.
He described the chief fisheries inspector’ comments as “disheartening,” coming from a representative of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine resources. According to Izaacs, they are in constant engagement with the Fisheries Ministry and also Minister Bernard Esau himself to work towards the formalisation of the ski-boat industry, among others.
Commercial fishing permits for ski-boat owners are, according to Izaacs, of majpr concern as very few are being issued and most ski-boat owners are now forced to operate with recreational fishing permits. Izaaks told Confidente that he did not appreciate the “defiant” manner in which Tempo addressed the workshop. He said he did not intend “to leave it unchallenged.”
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