Africa > Southern Africa > Namibia > Oil Survey Effect Report On Tuna Expected in Namibia

Namibia: Oil Survey Effect Report On Tuna Expected in Namibia

2013/08/20

A report by the task force commissioned by government to asses the result of oil exploring surveys on the tuna industry is expected by end of this month, confirmed Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Bernard Esau.

The task force that includes three ministries comes four months next The Namibian reported that tests off the coast of southern Namibia by oil prospecting vessels could result in the collapse of the tuna industry.

Esau told The Namibian yesterday that he is expecting the statement before end of August in order to find a way that will provide a solution to ensuring that oil explorations do not affect migrating fish.

A conference involving Esau and Mines and Energy minister Isak Katali inclunding Works and Transport Erikki Nghimtina on 7 August 2013 agreed that a seismic task force be set up.

The team as well includes staff members from the Benguela Current Commission and stakeholders from the tuna fishing and oil exploration sectors.

The proposition are that a seismic exploration moratorium be put in place in Namibian waters between October and April, during the albacore tuna season.

What is as well proposed is that research will be required to assess how far away from the fishing grounds, seismic exploration can take place without negatively impacting the fish, so that someday a additional refined management plan can be put in place to the benefit of both the fishing and oil exploration industries.

Apart from the surveys, there are four wells that are expected to be drilled in the next 12 months at the coast of Namibia.

The large-pelagic industry employs about 800 Namibians and contributes to Namibia's fishing export revenue - all of which is presently being threatened.

Seismic tests are conducted by exploration vessels by using a large 'sledgehammer' to create sound waves under water.

The cause and intensity of these waves are recorded and are indicative of underwater and underground substance. 2D and 3D surveys in the water send out seismic pulses at around 230-250 decibels as frequently as each eight seconds which penetrate the sea bottom and are able to assess potential oil resources.

These sounds as well 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 kilometres from the !Nami≠Nüs fishing grounds. The Large Pelagic and Hake Longlining Association has since last year been lobbying to government on the impact that oil exploration vessels on the tuna industry which has seen production nosedive.

Matthew Hambuda, the Chairman of Large Pelagic and Hake Longlining Association said this result can be compared to standing due beside a jet engine operating at full.

"Enough to blow the ears off fish causing deafness, and negatively impact fish schooling and migration, homing or orientation, avoidance of significant habitat, stress, reproduction, food-finding, and declines in fisheries catch rates, to name a few side effects," he said in a statement.

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