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VIET SEAFOOD

Oil Search Threatens Tuna Industry Namibia, March 5, 13

Seismic tests off the coast of southern Namibia by marine oil prospecting vessels could result in the collapse of the tuna industry.
It is believed that the migrating route of albacore tuna between South African waters and Lüderitz has been disrupted to such an extent that some of fishing companies will not survive this season, which ends in April.
This time of the year there could be up to 40 vessels with about ten employees each catching tuna, but this is not the case this season, sources told The Namibian. Now there are only about ten vessels at sea.
The large-pelagic industry employs about 800 Namibians and contributes significantly to Namibia’s fishing export revenue - all of which is now being threatened.


Seismic tests are conducted by exploration vessels by using a large 'sledgehammer' to create sound waves under water. The course and intensity of these waves are recorded and are indicative of underwater and underground substance. These sounds also drive fish away and are believed to be fatal to marine mammals such as dolphins and whales.
These tests are apparently taking place about 30 kilometers from the Lüderitz fishing grounds.
The chairman of the Namibian Large Pelagic and Hake Long-lining Association, Matthew Hambunda, confirmed these fears, saying that the industry is seeking an urgent audience with the ministers of mines and energy, and fisheries and marine resources to address the problem.

Seismic tests have increased in the southern waters, which has already resulted in less than half (about 2 000 tons) of the tuna quota being landed by the end of 2012.

“This year will be far worse. I don’t even think we'll land a thousand tons by the end of this season,” Hambunda said.

Namibia and South Africa have a 'sharing quota' of 10 000 tons - that is 5 000 tons each. Tuna apparently swim north from South Africa’s side, but increased seismic tests near the border have led the industry to believe that before the fish enter Namibian waters, they divert from the usual route. Namibian and South African vessels apparently operate on both sides of the border, hence the ‘sharing quota’.
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