Original Articles

The orange roughy fishery of Namibia: lessons to be learned about managing a developing fishery


Abstract

Exploration for orange roughy Hoplostethus atlanticus in Namibia started in 1994 and within 12 months several aggregations had been discovered, suggesting the existence of a biomass sufficient to support a viable fishery. At that early stage it was realized that few, if any, recognized management procedures existed for newly developing fisheries, especially with the paucity of data such as existed on Namibian orange roughy. The development of the Namibian orange roughy fishery is reviewed to document the management strategies implemented and how the management of the fishery evolved. The first six years of the fishery are described, including the three-year exploration phase, several years of profitable exploitation, and the severe decline in catch rates. Whether the decline is attributable to fishing mortality or to change in the aggregating behaviour of orange roughy, or both, is not clear. Although many aspects of the precautionary approach were followed, a risk analysis applied and a number of innovative management methods implemented (e.g. incentives to promote exploratory fishing, use of Bayesian statistical methods, implementation of a management plan for long-term total allowable catches), the aggregating biomass declined to between 10 and 50% of virgin levels within the six years. The management methods applied are evaluated in the light of the severe decline in catch rate experienced in 1998 and 1999, so that others may learn from the experience.

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