Namibian environment minister Pohamba Penomwenyo Shifeta has come out strongly against the proposal for Chinese companies to capture and export hundreds of marine animals from Namibia and praised the massive public outcry that so far has stopped the proposal in its tracks.
“I want to thank the public for being so consistent about talking about this,” says Shifeta, as quoted in the Namibia Sun. “I want to request the public to continue monitoring this so that we are immediately given information if there is any attempt to take any natural resource, whether it is from the ocean or anywhere else.”
A few weeks ago, the owners of the Russian vessel wrote a scathing letter criticizing local environmentalists and the people of Namibia, vowing to withdraw the permit. Despite the fact that the proposed permits appear to be dead in the water, locals have become concerned due to recent activity observed aboard the Russian vessel Ryazanovka that could carry out the capture operations. Reports indicate that crew members have been working on large purse seine nets aboard the ship. However, the Marine Resources Act requires all fishing gear to remain securely stowed away at all times unless a valid license or permit has been issued.
Shifeta notes that even if a permit were to be granted, the companies would need to obtain an environmental clearance certificate first – and apparently this has not been done.
He issued a warning to the Ryazanovka vessel, saying that should they attempt to capture any wildlife without permission, it would amount to “stealing, and we will not tolerate it.”
Activists and experts remain concerned that the vessel and the companies involved may attempt to take their operations to neighboring countries. The article indicates that the Namibian Forestry Office has been silent on the status of the permit request, despite the company’s claim that they were withdrawing the permit request. Their next moves will be monitored closely by the local environmental groups.