Southern Africa coastal states get tough on illegal fishing

WINDHOEK, July 5, 2008 (AFP) – Eight southern African coastal states have agreed to set up a regional task force to deal with illegal fishing in their waters and save dwindling fish stocks, fisheries ministers said. A three-day ministerial conference held in Namibia decided to implement the plan which would ban trans-shipment of catches at sea and prevent illegally caught fish, mainly by Asian vessels, from landing at regional ports.

“Each year our coastal members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) lose approximately eight billion Namibia dollars (one billion US dollars/660 million euros) in revenue due to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) marine fishing,” said Abraham Iyambo, Namibia?s fisheries minister.

“We cannot allow this plunder of our oceans fish stocks to continue,” he told reporters in the capital Windhoek.

The plan would see the launching of a regional monitoring centre, a tracing system (labelling) for caught fish and fish products and stricter control of which vessels fly flags of SADC states.

“Globally, IUU fishing accounts for 30 percent of the world?s fish worth some 120 billion Namibia dollars annually – so we have to act as this crime deprives SADC state