In an interview with New Era, Dr Moses Maurihungirire, Director of Aquaculture in the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources said last year the ministry only harvested about 85 metric tons of fish from freshwater aquaculture.
Namibia’s arid climate means that the inland freshwater fisheries sector is relatively small. Only in the north-eastern and north-western regions of Zambezi, Okavango, Omusati, Ohangwena, Oshikoto and Oshana are sizeable freshwater fisheries found.
Dr Maurihungirire explained that the ministry anticipated harvesting at least 300 metric tons of freshwater fish last year but could not reach such targets due to natural disaster phenomena.
The government pumped an amount of N$49.993 million into the aquaculture sector (both marine and freshwater) during 2012/13, however, the fisheries ministry only managed to use about N$44.607 million for such purposes.
Meanwhile, during the 2011/12 financial year, the ministry received an amount of N$72. 826 million for aquaculture and managed to utilise N$68.142 million. For the 2011/12 financial year, government allocated an amount of N$71.826 million and the ministry used about N$68.142 million for aquaculture countrywide.
Namibia has three corporative fish farms, one in Zambezi and two in the Kavango regions. The other fish farms which are government-owned are based at Onavivi in the Omusati Region and Hardap Inland Aquaculture Centre in Hardap Region.
The third is the Leonardville mini fish farm, which was the brainchild of the late Dr Abraham Iyambo during his tenure at the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources. “The floods affected the fish farms mainly in Zambezi and Kavango regions,” said Dr Maurihungirire.
Fisheries Minister Bernhard Esau also said aquaculture is a challenge countywide especially during floods and drought. “If you have floods, then you have problems on these projects. Fish farms are faced with a number of challenges. However, these fish farms are still working. We have not put them high on the agenda because of the drought being experienced,” he noted.
The fisheries minister pointed out that fish feed is very costly and his ministry is restrained by fiancial resources. “Although fish food is a challenge, we have not given up aquaculture. We built a new fish farm and it will be inaugurated this year. And we have one in Keetmanshoop and the funds have also been earmarked,” Mr Esau said.
However, he reported that marine aquaculture is doing well especially with the harvesting of oysters and other fish species.
Despite the floods and drought, studies show that good freshwater aquaculture development potential exists along rivers such as the Kavango, Kunene, Orange and Zambezi, as well as in dams.
In addition, the fisheries ministry and the Ministry of Trade and Industry have developed six community-based intensive freshwater aquaculture facilities in Omusati, Okavango and Zambezi regions producing tilapia and catfish for local distribution.
Fingerings are also being produced and distributed to small-scale farmers in the north for their own production. Inland capture fisheries exist in the north-east and north-west of Namibia, where various types of tilapia species and catfish are harvested from rivers and floodplains.
Moreover, Namibia has several factors in favour of developing marine aquaculture. Production advantages for marine aquaculture in Namibia include approximately 1,500km of largely uninhabited coastline, unpolluted high quality marine waters, high natural primary productivity of the seawater, availability of inexpensive fish by-products from the established fish processing sector for inclusion in wet aqua-feeds, and well-established processing, packaging and marketing systems in the marine capture fisheries that can be adapted for aquaculture purposes.