The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources will spend an estimated N$60m to develop fish farms in the northern and southern regions of the country.
The Ministry’s spokesperson, Charlie Matengu told The Villager that the ministry is ensuring that fish farms are implemented and operated at community level in order to improve livelihoods.
When the Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources’ Bernhard Esau delivered his budget motivation speech in the National Assembly last week, he said the ministry has almost completed the N$2.5 million tendering documentation for the Onakalunga Fish Farm in the Ohangwena region, a project estimated to cost N$40 million.
Esau added that the ministry is also upgrading the Fonteintjie Fish Farm in the Karas Region to the tune of N$20.7 million.
The upgrading of the Fonteintjie Fish Farm started in October last year, and is expected to be completed this financial year.
Matengu told The Villager that phase 2 of the Onakalunga Fish Farm will continue throughout this year, and this community would be expected to start benefitting from the project next year.
Experts from Cuba are assisting the Ministry’s experts with the starting-up of the project.
“The tender is not taken away from the person who did phase 1, which involved the cleaning and fencing-off of the place,” said Matengu.
The Ministry also constantly holds meetings with community members who are in charge of the fish farms.
“There is a bit of food security, but there are times you find aquaculture farmers who would harvest fish and sell, and sometimes they would harvest fish for consumption,” the spokesperson noted.
“The only headache we have is that we do not know where we are not getting it right. For instance, if you are projecting a harvest of 10 000 fish and then end up harvesting 5 000, then the question is why we couldn’t get 10 000”, he added.
The Fisheries’ minister also noted that observations can reveal that the fish yields from the Zambezi Region’s floodplains are rapidly decreasing, and that the fish caught is not marketed at the Katima Mulilo fish market.
The ministry also recorded that fish in the lower Orange River are under severe pressure as a result of increased illegal fishing activities, especially at Noordoewer and Aussenkehr during the grape-harvesting season.
The Zambezi and Kavango Regions have also suffered severe illegal fishing activities, and as a result fish yields from the Zambezi region have decreased rapidly.
An estimated yield of 5340 tonnes which is worth N$41 million was recorded during the 2012/13 season in the Zambezi region.
In addition, the Namibia Fish Consumption Promotion Trust (NFCPT) has distributed 6963mt (metric tonnes) of fish during the 2014/15 financial year, as compared to 7445mt distributed during the 2013/14 financial year.
“This reduction is attributed to the fact that the Trust reduced the amount of fish purchased from other operators because of budgetary constraints, and thus the reduction in metric tonnes distributed in the last financial year,” the Minister stated.
Esau said his Ministry will continue to encourage the fishing industry to jointly participate in international seafood expositions as a way to promote fish and fisheries products. “The Ministry is in the process of finalizing consultations with relevant stakeholders on the Shellfish Sanitation Regulations, and is ready for resubmit it to the legal drafters to be finalized and gazetted,” he added.
The MFMR - in collaboration with the National Youth Service (NYS) – will continue to deploy members of the NYS at aquaculture projects throughout the country, and this is supposed to give training in fish farming to NYS members. In return, they will teach community members horticultural methods for them to practice integrated crop/fish production.
For the period under review, 14 youth members have been deployed at various aquaculture centres at a cost of around N$200 000 in allowance.