Ver Angola


Illegal fishing in Namibe threatens species and compromises safety

The provincial director of Fisheries in the province of Namibe justified the destruction of buoys and artisanal canoes with the “illegalities” committed, which compromise fishing species and maritime safety.

: Ampe Rogério/Lusa
Ampe Rogério/Lusa  

Last week, authorities were accused of burning dozens of buoys and other artisanal fishing equipment, which led to a protest by fishermen against the provincial government of Namibe, who ended up forcibly dispersed by the police.

Friends of Angola (FoA), a non-governmental organization, condemned the act of seizing and burning the means of work of artisanal fishermen, considering it an "attack" on the families' livelihoods, but the authorities considered the measure necessary "to combat exploitation".

The provincial director of Fisheries in Namibe, Piedade Gohane, explained to Lusa the measures taken, highlighting that the activity was being carried out illegally in the bay, in the estuary (species breeding area) and in the port area, with aspects of maritime safety also being at stake.

"There are two ports, the Minas Gerais port, with a Sonangol fuel unloading terminal, and the commercial port, and here in our bay we have been receiving large vessels, which when docking or exiting maneuvers have difficulties to identify floating objects. We're not talking about boats, they're styrofoam buoys (...) that they use for fishing in the bay", he explained.

According to Piedade Gohane, the owners of the aforementioned buoys are not fishermen, therefore refuting the idea that the activity is subsistence.

"There are people who build these buoys and employ children. There are minors involved in this activity, from 14 to 16 years old", said the person in charge, pointing out diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis and others as consequences, due to exposure to cold and humidity.

The official highlighted that there was a "series of illegalities", which had been going on "for years" and which the authorities now intend to resolve, starting with the ongoing process of formalizing 15 cooperatives, from the group of affected people, with 160 so far registered people.

"After raising awareness, they realized what we want", said the provincial director of fisheries in Namibe, regretting the "exploitation" surrounding the situation, reinforcing that they will only receive support from the authorities, institutional and financial, and people directly linked to fishing activities, which will be part of the cooperatives.

Piedade Gohane said that the people who present themselves as owners of the buoys should not be included in the cooperatives, "because they were subjugating minors or people who really need this subsistence activity, transforming it into commercial fishing".

In a letter addressed to the Minister of Fisheries and the Minister of the Interior, the executive director of FoA, Florindo Chivucute, expressed "deep indignation and repudiation of the act of seizure and burning of buoys and boats belonging to artisanal fishermen in the province of Namibe, carried out by local government authorities, in the early hours of the 9th of the current month".

"This act represents a direct attack on the livelihoods of several families who depend on artisanal fishing to survive, according to the images and videos circulating on social media, the victims claim that such means served as a livelihood for more than 15 families who they lived directly and indirectly from fishing, leaving them without a source of income to support themselves", reads the document to which the Lusa agency had access this Tuesday

The organization demanded "immediate repair of the damage caused, with the replacement of destroyed buoys and boats, and the implementation of a constructive dialogue between government authorities and artisanal fishermen, in order to prevent acts like this from being repeated in the future".


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