Namibia’s Large Pelagic (Tuna) Association is terribly worried over collapse of tuna catches in Namibian waters and whether the future holds worsening peril or might there be promise.
Restoring Namibia Tuna Pastures To Historic Health And Abundance Can Be Immediately Accomplished With A Single Ocean ‘Life’ Boat
TodayNamibia’s tuna peril according to official figures show that in 2011 the tuna industry was worth $170 million (USD) when 4,000 tonnes of tuna was caught by 39 vessels.
By 2015 the catch had collapsed to less than 1/4 of that amount, well under 1,000 tonnes caught by only nine remaining boats fishing Namibia’s ocean tuna pastures.
The South Atlantic tuna catch has collapsed in lock step with collapse of South Atlantic Tuna pasture plankton blooms which coincides with two-fold impacts of high and rising CO2.
On top of the ocean pasture collapse heavy fishing pressure has placed increasing demands on the unsustainable tuna schools starving on ocean pasture that are becoming ever bluer ocean deserts.
Witnessing the drop in catches, the Large Pelagic Association contacted the Namibia Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources to express its concerns over Namibia tuna. A meeting was held with the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, involving all three parties, Matti Amukwa, a spokesperson of the association told The Namibian this week.
Amukwa said when the Namibian albacore tuna catches dropped from 4,046 tonnes harvested by 39 vessels in 2011 to 1,882 tonnes from 26 vessels in 2012. The association has been perplexed at the collapse of the fishery and is seeking to discover who or what is to blame.
This huge decline in the number of fishing vessels working the Namibian ocean tuna pastures was said to be due to the fact that a large number of South African vessels involved in joint ventures with Namibians had become unprofitable due to poor catches. South African vessels are not returning to Namibia for fear of complete bankruptcy. Last year, 2015, tuna catches dropped to just 970 tonnes, caught by only nine operating vessels, Amukwa explained.
The 2016 allowable catch remains at 3,600 tonnes but the catch is certain to be far less than last year. No one expects the tuna to return to Namibia tuna pastures that have become blue deserts devoid of fish and which will continue to decline unless ocean pasture restoration is begun.
Direct tuna industry employment in Namibia has been worse than decimated, with only around 180 people currently employed on vessels, compared to around 800 people in 2011. This has had a major economic impact on the town of Lüderitz, and especially those who were have lost their jobs and their families, Amukwa stressed.
This collapse of the tuna industry has led to the creation of an inter-ministerial tuna task force led by the fisheries ministry. The task force also comprised the Large Pelagic Association, the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the tourism and transport ministries, the Benguela Current Commission and South Africa, as the fish migrate from South Africa.
Not The Usual Suspects, A Seismic Red Herring
There are worries that oil exploration and seismic surveys might be adding to the crisis in Namibia’s tuna industry. The Tuna association has called for a moratorium on seismic exploration during the tuna fishing season’s main months of October to April when the tuna have historically migrated through Namibia’s southern waters. The oil industry has objected to this as they believe they are being singled out as the culprits without any scientific basis as no where in the world have there been scientific reports of showing that seismic testing impacts tuna populations or migrations.
Never-the-less the seismic industry is interest in working with the tuna association on research that will allow both to jointly operate at sea in future by finding ways to reduce any negative impacts and/or restore the Namibia tuna pastures. We are now working on where we need to focus our research so that this can be presented to the full Nampoa membership for approval, Amukwa said. The problems facing the tuna industry have been brought to the attention of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, he added.
The Promise In Restoring Namibia’s Ocean Pastures
Namibia is a country know for its dry grasslands and pastures on land. Every Namibian knows that the health of the pasture means everything and when the pasture grass in not healthy the pastures cannot sustain herds of both cattle and wildlife.
Pastures on land and their grass depend on water, rain that comes in the wind. Man has known he must care for pastures to keep them productive. This care is not a transitory thing it must take place in an ever present manner every year for so long as we hope to share the bounty of thriving sustaining pastures. Humans learned the lesson to care for its pastures ten thousand years ago on land, it is time to take that lesson to sea to offer the same wise pasture management to ocean pastures.
The same is true about ocean tuna pastures although there the grass of the pasture is phyto-plankton. Ocean pasture phytoplankton grass grows in water and what it depends upon most of all is the gift of dust that blows to it from the land. Without the minerals in dust the ocean pastures enter times of drought and become blue deserts.
The South Atlantic ocean pastures have been closely monitored for decades and are shown to have been in a state of collapse. Primary productivity as seen in ocean colour satellite and ship board data of chlorophyll reveals they have lost as much as 50% of their carrying capacity. The rapid disappearence of ocean pasture phytoplankton/’grass’ translates into collapse of the primary grazing species which includes tuna.
The International Tuna Commission has stated that South Atlantic Albacore tuna are now at a mere 25% of their historical abundance and populations are collapsing fast.
Namibia can restore it’s ocean tuna pastures and immediately return those pastures to historic abundance. The methodology and technology is now perfectly proven, safe, sustainable, and best of all very low cost. If just one of the large 30 Namibia tuna vessels now out of work is repurposed to becoming the platform for caring stewardship of Namibia’s ocean pastures they can be returned to health and abundance in a matter of just a few years.
Tuna are amazingly resilient and productive fish. They respond immediately to finding good pasture upon which to thrive and survive. Healthy well fed tuna will rapidly gain weight and will enter into prime spawning condition within a few months of finding flourishing pastures and good feeding.
Healthy pasture fed tuna will spawn every year at least once and each healthy female may release millions of eggs. The better fed the mother tuna is the greater survival of her young. The tuna grow incredibly fast on good pastures, existing fish will put on weight within months and newlyhatched young will become large valuable harvestable fish within 2-3 years.
Proven To Work And Bring Back The Fish
The promise for Namibia’s Ocean Pastures is not some unproven notion. In 2012 I restored the world first large ocean pasture in the NE Pacific, the Gulf of Alaska. Chartering a large local fishing vessel I took 10 shipmates aboard with me along with a cargo of my prescription mineral dust. In the heart of what was becoming a blue desert where Pacific Salmon reside we replenished the vital mineral dust that had gone missing from that ocean, as it has from Namibia’s South Atlantic ocean. The ocean turned from blue to green and the very next year the fish came back.
In Alaska where a catch of Pink Salmon was expected to be a good year with 50 million five pound Pink Salmon predicted to be caught instead 226 million Pink Salmon were caught. The largest catch in all of history! IT JUST WORKS!
For Namibia we can and MUST Bring Back The Namibia Tuna