Holiday time! Fun, joy and fishing on the beach! Every year thousands of Namibians and visitors from neighbouring countries visit the coastal towns of Walvis Bay, Swakopmund, Wlotzkasbaken and Henties Bay to enjoy the cooler weather at the Atlantic Ocean and to relax on the beaches. One of the favourite pastimes is angling, and Namibia´s coastline is known for its good fishing.

A permit is required for any recreational fishing. This can be obtained at the offices of the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources in Windhoek, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Lüderitz, and at the Namibian Police in Henties Bay. Strict regulations are in place to protect this valuable resource and each angler and holidaymaker must adhere to them.

The main linefish species permitted to be caught and taken home must be of a certain prescribed size, and the angler is only allowed to catch two of these per day. Fish which are too small, and in a few cases too big, must be gently put back into the water. To do that, and to be assured that the fish will survive, anglers must treat the fish with care. Fish to be returned to the sea must not be pulled over the sand. This rubs off the protective slimy layer of the fish, exposing bare skin and inflicting wounds from which the fish will not recover. Anglers are advised to pull the fish ashore with the help of the waves and water. It is of utmost importance that the angler does not touch the gills of a fish as they are easily damaged. This causes bleeding from which the fish will either die or will cause it to be taken by a predator like a shark. No fish should be out of the water for longer than two minutes, nor should it be roughly thrown back into the water as this could cause its swim bladder to burst, which will result in death.

Handle undersize fish with care
Three of the linefish species which are regulated by size limits. Top – West Coast steenbras, right-middle – blacktail, and bottom left – kob.

When removing the hook, utmost care should be taken to avoid injuring the fish unnecessarily. Fish are living animals and, contrary to popular belief, have a nervous system. Although many people are under the impression that fish do not feel because they are coldblooded, fish do in fact feel pain. Every fish caught should therefore be treated with respect and either be gently released in the water as quickly as possible or, if being taken home, killed immediately. Leaving fish to die out of the water is considered an act of cruelty.

A recreational fishing permit allows a person to catch and keep up to 30 barbel (catfish), 20 snoek and one shark per day. The angler is also allowed to catch blacktail, galjoen, kob and West Coast steenbras, but the total of these four species may not exceed more than 10 per day.

Handle undersize fish with care
A fully grown female West Coast steenbras. Only two fish of this species longer than 65 cm may be taken home by an angler per day.

No blacktail shorter than 25 cm may be taken and undersize fish must be carefully returned to the sea. The minimum size for galjoen is 30 cm, and for kob and West Coast Steenbras, 40 cm. Every fish must be measured from the tip of its head to the centre of its tail. It is illegal to keep kob that are longer than 70 cm and an angler is only permitted to catch two West Coast steenbras longer than 65 cm per day.

Fish may only be brought ashore in a whole state. No heads or tails may be removed. In addition, no-one may have in his/her possession more than 30 fish (three days’ catch) and not more than 10 of one species, either kob, steenbras, blacktail or galjoen.

Those who enjoy catching crayfish (lobster) must also ensure they have a valid permit and that they do not take crayfish that have just moulted and have a soft skin, females with eggs, or those having a carapace (hard upper shell) less than 65 mm. Not more than seven crayfish may be caught per day by a permit holder, and not more than seven per permit holder may be transported at any one time in a vehicle. The fishing season for lobster is from the 1st November until the 30th April.

Handle undersize fish with care
No undersize crayfish or females with eggs (like this one) may be taken out of the water. They have to be released back into the sea immediately.

Fishing for recreational purposes (with a valid permit) is allowed from Terrace Bay to Torra Bay in the Skeleton Coast National Park, from the Ugab River to Walvis Bay in the Dorob National Park, from Pelican Point to Sandwich Harbour and from Pomona Island to the Orange River. In Lüderitz, crayfish may be caught in the southern limits of Diaz Point to Grosse Bucht. No crayfish may be taken out between sunset and sunrise.

Worms are not allowed to be used as bait and no red bait may be dislodged in any way from any surface. Only red bait washed ashore may be used.

Author: Dirk Heinrich

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