One doesn’t expect to find much fish in Namibia – after all it’s the driest country south of the Sahara. And yet a large number of Namibians make a living from catching fish. Besides the fact that commercial fishing is the second largest sector of the economy there are also countless opportunities for leisure and sport angling. Freshwater anglers have a large variety of species to choose from in the rivers, including the feisty tiger fish (Hydrocynus vittatus). Carp and the African sharptooth catfish (Clarias gariepinus) are found in reservoirs as well as in pools left in dry riverbeds. Largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) have been released in some dams and attract anglers. Various surf fish, sharks and rays can be caught from the beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. Bait cast from a boat will lure predatory fish from deeper waters, especially the much sought-after Snoek (Thyrsites atun).
Large quantities of fish such as hake, horse mackerel, monkfish, sole, and South African sardine, commonly known as pilchard, are exploited commercially. Surf fish like kob, white seabream or blacktail, white barbel, galjoen and West Coast seabream (steenbra) are commercially harvested and also sought after by recreational and sport anglers.
Fish is a staple food of the rural population especially along the rivers that form the border of north-eastern Namibia. The catch is sold locally or exported fresh, dried, salted or canned. Fish caught by sport anglers during competitions usually has to be released again with the least possible harm to the animal. The catch-and-release rule also applies to shark fishing for the purpose of tourist entertainment or sports.
In the central north people catch countless tons of fish with nets of all kinds, including traditional fish traps, when good rains in Angola drain into the Cuvelai System of northern Namibia. The resulting floods bring an abundance of fish with them. In the summer months of December and January, the main holiday season in Namibia, several thousand recreational anglers cast their fishing rods from the shore every day and hope for a good catch. Numerous tourists book into the lodges on the Zambezi, Kwando and Okavango rivers every year to catch tiger fish and other species of freshwater fish on a catch-and-release basis. Various angling contests take place at the sea, on lakes and on the rivers throughout the year, e.g. on the Zambezi River from 28 to 31 August this year.
Author: Dirk Heinrich