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A Short History of the Namibian Hake Fishery—a Social-Ecological Analysis

Barbara Paterson, Marine Research Institute (Ma-Re), Zoology Department, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Carola Kirchner, National Marine Information and Research Centre (NatMirc), Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Namibia; University of Cape Town, Graduate School of Business, South Africa
Rosemary E. Ommer, University of Victoria


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As a legacy of Namibia’s colonial past, the country inherited severely depleted fish resources at the time of independence. Today, Namibia’s fisheries are almost exclusively industrial. The hake fishery is the country’s most important fishery, which was restructured from a pre-independence foreign fishery into one that is characterized by locally based, vertically integrated fishing and processing companies. It is widely believed that Namibia has successfully combined the neoliberal economics that have been characteristic of the development narratives since the 1980s with welfarist goals for poverty reduction. However, there are strong indications that the fish stocks are declining, while the high economic expectations for the fishery have not been fulfilled. Rather, it seems that the Namibian government’s attempt to combine economic neoliberalism and social equity has, in fact, created a developmental dilemma. We track the environmental impact of the historic exploitation of Namibia’s fish resources and examine this dilemma and its effects on Namibia’s fisheries management.

Key words

distant water fleets; fisheries; hake; Merlucius capensis; Merluccius paradoxus; Namibia; Namibianisation; Northern Benguela; South West Africa; sustainable fisheries development

Copyright © 2013 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087