By Lahja Nashuuta
Windhoek - The marine and fisheries authorities of Namibia and Indonesia this week signed a five-year plan of action on marine and fisheries resources.
Namibian Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Bernard Esau, signed the Plan of Action for Cooperation in Fisheries with his Indonesian counterpart, Susi Pudjiatsusi, in Bali on Wednesday.
The action plan that is expected to run from 2019 to 2021 will see the two nations sharing information and cooperating in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, as well as on sustainable aquaculture production.
Speaking during the signing ceremony, Esau said though Namibia and Indonesia are located in different oceans with distinct fisheries, as the largest oceans nations in the world, the two countries have a lot to learn from each other, especially when it comes to sustainable fisheries, ocean-based energy solutions, tourism, new approaches to marine protected areas, and the ocean economy.
“Namibia is keen to learn best practices from Indonesia on fighting IUU fishing, and sustainable aquaculture production, among other aspects,” Esau said.
Esau said although Namibia has been a global leader in fisheries management and a host to the Secretariat South East Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (SEAFO) as well as Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem Convention Secretariat, the resources to patrol in the country’s waters still pose a challenge. According to well-placed sources, thousands of tonnes of fish, apparently mostly horse mackerel, are being stolen from the Namibian waters by licensed foreign-flagged vessels, who chase their catch up to 60 nautical miles (110 kilometres) into Namibia’s exclusive economic zone.
“There are some challenges about being open with tracking data because some of our fisheries are not migratory, so vessels tend to be very private as to where they fish,” he said
In order for Namibia to improve the ocean governance, Esau said the government is considering the option to share the vessel lists as well as vessel monitoring data.
“It is true to say that being more transparent with our fishery, perhaps by seeking to share our authorised vessel list publicly or pushing for public tracking of fishing vessels, provides the opportunity to have a more in-depth understanding of what is happening,” Esau said.
He further said Namibia is keen to open discussions with Global Fishing Watch about the country’s consideration to join their transparency platform, following the example of Indonesia, and work with other African nations to support public access to fishing information and Transparency, including possible joining of the Vessels Monitoring System open data system.
Esau, therefore, urged officials from both countries to act with speed to conclude the necessary detailed protocols containing timelines and budgets for specific activities to avoid further delay in the implementation of the Plan of Action, and hence the MoU.
The signing of the plan of action for cooperation follows the MoU signed by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of Namibia, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, Retno Marsudi, on Marine Affairs and Fisheries Cooperation in Bogor on 30 August 2018.