The Aquaculture Act, adopted in 2002, (the Act) is the primary legal framework for the aquaculture industry of Namibia, and provides for the establishment, administration and conduct of aquaculture in water and on land. The Act broadly applies to matters related to licensing, health management, disease control, access to land and water, and environment protection. It is the responsibility of the Ministry of Fisheries (the Ministry) to manage the Act, which in itself vests regulatory and enforcement powers under the Ministry.
The Aquaculture (Licensing) Regulations: Aquaculture Act, 2002, adopted in 2003 (the Aquaculture (Licensing) Regulations), further specifies and outlines the application and conduct of aquaculture activities.
The Aquaculture Policy - Towards Responsible Development of Aquaculture - finalized in 2001, laid the foundations for the Aquaculture Act. Pursuant to Act, the Minister must from time to time, taking into account the relevant economic, social and environmental factors and on the basis of the best scientific information available, formulate the general aquaculture policy in Namibia. The purpose of the policy is to promote sustainable aquaculture, manage, protect and conserve marine and inland aquatic ecosystems, and to benefit the promotion and operation of aquaculture projects.
In determining the general policy in identified areas, the Minister must consult with the other relevant Ministries, the Aquaculture Advisory Council (AAC), which is established under the Act, as well as other stakeholders as provided for in the Act.
The AAC consists of the Permanent Secretary and such other persons as the Minister may appoint, including:
Namibia has identified Aquaculture as a priority development in VISION 2030 and the National Development Plan (NDP2). The 2004 Aquaculture Strategic Plan set forward the Ministers policy development and planning goals. As an industry, aquaculture is relatively young in Namibia, however, it has a competitive advantage as typically high cost feed requirements are offset by the nutrient rich Benguela ecosystem. The commercial marine aquaculture is dominated by production in Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Luderitz.
"Aquaculture" means the farming and ranching of aquatic organisms;
"Sea Ranching" means the type of aquaculture in which aquaculture products are intentionally released, without restriction, into the marine environment for the purpose of harvesting them when they mature;
"Aquatic Organisms" include live forms of fauna and flora that exist in water, excluding mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles, except for those amphibians and reptiles declared to be aquatic organisms by the regulations.
Licences confer an exclusive right to farm and harvest aquaculture products within the defined site. Regarding sea ranching, licences confer an exclusive right to release and harvest aquaculture products within the defined site. All aquaculture products which are released or escape into the natural environment, remain the exclusive property of the licensee as long as the licensee can prove their identity.
The Minister may issue licences subject to any condition considered appropriate, including:
Before issuing the licence, the Minister must be satisfied that the applicant has obtained any authorization, permit or approval required under the laws relating to land or water use and an environmental clearance if so required.. If the applicant is not the owner of the site, the application has to be accompanied by the written consent of the owner. The Minister may consider any representations or objections received; whether a licence will create a significant risk of pollution or adversely affect the environment; whether the site is unsuited for the planned aquaculture; traffic requirements or the risk of conflict with other activities undertaken or proposed in the vicinity of the site.
The Minister may, after consulting the advisory council, by notice in the Gazette determine any fees which are payable in respect of licences.
The Act provides that licensees must keep records and provide the Permanent Secretary with such information as is prescribed. Licensees are required to maintain these records at their usual place for a period of five years. These records may be viewed, obtained and copied by any inspector or any staff member of the Minister with written authorisation.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry must keep a register showing every licence issued or transferred. Pursuant to the Aquaculture (Licensing) Regulations, the register shall record all licences issued in Namibia including:
A licence issued under the Act is not transferable except with the prior written approval of the Minister.
Licences may be renewed by application to the Minister and may be subject to review, re-evaluation and new conditions. The Minister may refuse to renew a licence if the licensee fails to remedy any licence non-compliance within a reasonable period, or if the licensee contravenes, or fails to comply with any provision of the Act. The Minister may also refuse renewal if non-renewal is warranted to ensure the protection and conservation of the environment. If the Minister fails to renew the licence or fails to renew the licence before the expiry date of the licence, then it is automatically renewed on the existing terms and conditions for a period of one year.
The Minister has the authority to suspend or cancel a licence if the licensee fails to comply with any condition of the licence and fails to remedy such non-compliance within a reasonable period of time. Licence suspension or cancellation may also be carried out where the licensee ceases to conduct aquaculture operations; has not commenced activities within one year of the licence issue; suspension or cancellation is required to ensure protection and conservation of the environment; the licensee has failed to take the appropriate measure in relation to spread of disease and harmful organisms; the licensee contravenes or fails to comply with other provisions of the Act. Instead of suspending or cancelling the licence, the Minister may issue a variation of the licence, allowing for continuation under such conditions as he determines.
The Minister may take over and operate an aquaculture facility if the facility is abandoned, operating without a licence, or where it is necessary for public safety. In taking such action the Minister has all the powers, duties and privileges of a licensee.
By written notice from the Minister, a licensee, former licensee or person who ceases to carry on aquaculture may be required to remove any aquaculture facility and restore the site to the standard specified in the notice or to a condition acceptable to the Minister. If the notice is not acted upon within the specified time, the Minster may cause the removal and restoration of the site and recover any expenses from the person to whom the notice was issued.
The Minister may, subject to specified conditions, exempt from any or all of the provisions of the Act a person who conducts scientific investigations, experiments or research, and any other person whom the Minister considers appropriate. He may at any time cancel or amend an exemption so granted.
The Minister responsible for water must consider the following criteria before issuing a licence to abstract and use water: the impact of the proposed abstraction upon existing water users, water resources and the water reserved or allocated for environmental uses; the need to redress the effects of past racial and gender discrimination; the likely effect of the proposed abstraction; the volume of water abstracted and used by all concerned persons or communities; the nature of the uses dependent on the watercourse, including the economic and cultural value of the use.
The Minister responsible for water may reserve part or all of the flow of a watercourse with the concurrence of the regional councils concerned. This includes any groundwater resource and the water stored in a public reservoir. The objective of such action is to meet the domestic use of the water users concerned and reasonably protect aquatic and wetland ecosystems, including their biological diversity, and essential ecosystem functions.
Under the Aquaculture Act, if the applicant is not the owner of the site, the licence application has to be accompanied by the written consent of the owner of the site authorising the applicant to use the site. Where aquaculture is authorized under any proclaimed conservation or protected area, it is subject to the specific law governing such proclaimed conservation or protected areas.
Under the Act, Aquaculture Development Zones (ADZ) can be established by the Minister. An ADZ refers to any zone or area in Namibia, including water and land, created for the primary purpose of aquaculture and in which specific measures are taken to encourage the development of aquaculture. The purposes of ADZs is to attract, promote or increase the development of aquaculture facilities in areas which are particularly suitable for aquaculture. Furthermore, to encourage the transfer of technology and the development of responsible aquaculture practices; to generate employment; to protect aquaculture developments, as well as to ensure responsible planning of aquaculture.
The Minister may declare any area of Namibia or Namibian water, including sub-aquatic lands as an ADZ. However, the Minister must consult with the Aquaculture Advisory Council and any Ministry with jurisdiction in the proposed ADZ. Further to this, development objectives of the ADZ must be established and environmental impact assessment carried out as required.
The Minister may specify restrictions and conditions on waters draining into an ADZ and any land or water area adjacent to an ADZ. Moreover, the Minister may specify restrictions and conditions on the conduct of aquaculture in an ADZ, including the aquatic species to be farmed, the number and size of the aquaculture facilities and the carrying capacity of the aquaculture zone concerned. Unless the Minister provides written authorization, a person may not conduct any business or undertaking other than aquaculture in aquaculture development zones.
Where an environmental assessment is required under the Act, the Minister may not issue a licence unless satisfied that an environmental clearance for the project has been issued in accordance with the relevant laws. Furthermore, before making a decision on any application, the Minister may consider whether the grant of a licence will create a significant risk of pollution or adversely affect the environment.
The Minister may suspend or cancel a licence at any time if the Minister believes that such action is required to protect and conserve the environment.
Pursuant to the Act, before declaring a place as an aquaculture development zone, the Minister must consult with the advisory council and any Ministry having jurisdiction in the proposed aquaculture development zone and undertake an environmental impact assessment with regard to the zone.
An Environmental Assessment Policy for Namibia was approved in August 1994, under which an Environmental Assessment Procedure (EA) is a requirement for aquaculture and mariculture; water intensive industries; genetic modification of organisms and the release of such organisms. The EA may consist of up to 13 stages from submission of policy, proposal development, environment assessment, implementation, monitoring and auditing, and is designed to facilitate integrated and improved planning during all stages to ensure that the decision making process is informed and streamlined. This policy has, however, not progressed into legislation.
Pursuant to the Aquaculture Act, the Minister must establish a water quality monitoring system to maintain and provide timely information to licensees. Information will pertain to the occurrence or imminent occurrence of any pollution or natural phenomenon which may have a detrimental effect on the aquatic environment or any aquaculture product.
Where any aquaculture area in Namibian waters is affected by pollution or natural phenomena, the Minister must immediately order testing of the water in the affected area and of the aquaculture products farmed in or with such water. Subsequent testing will determine whether aquaculture activities can be undertaken and continued. In consultation with the Minister responsible for public health, the Minister can determine whether the aquaculture products are fit for human consumption. In consultation with the Minister responsible for trade, the Minister can prevent the sale or marketing of aquaculture products that are unfit for human consumption.
If tests show that the water quality of the affected area is unsuitable for continued aquaculture, or that the aquaculture products farmed are not fit for human consumption, the Minister must immediately close the facility and may prohibit the sale or marketing of aquaculture products farmed therein. If tests show that the water quality of any closed area is suitable for aquaculture, or that aquaculture products farmed therein are fit for human consumption, the Minister may reopen a closed area. In consultation with the Minister responsible for public health, sale, marketing of aquaculture products farmed in or with such water may be resumed.
The Water Resources Management Act (2004) provides for the management, development, protections, conservation and use of water resources. It establishes the Water Advisory Council, the Water Regulatory Board, and the Water Tribunal.
This act states that discharge of effluent is not permitted unless with a permit. The act sets out the process for application of permits; consideration processes; criteria; contents; terms and conditions. The Minister responsible for water may review, cancel or suspend a permit at any time, as well as to amend the terms and conditions if it is in the public interest.
Under the act, the Minister responsible for water must prescribe procedures to develop and adopt efficient water management practices that encourage efficient water use and pollution control. The relevant Minister must undertake periodic reviews of water users to determine their compliance with the efficient water management practices. If a water user fails to comply with efficient water management practices, the Minister must issue a notice of non-compliance requesting corrective measures within a period not exceeding 60 days. If the water user fails to comply with the notice, the Minister may cancel or suspend the licence or impose monitoring and other measures the Minister determines to be appropriate.
Pursuant to the Aquaculture (Licensing) Regulations, any transport of aquatic organisms between aquaculture facilities or the removal of any aquatic organism from an aquaculture facility shall be notified in writing to the Permanent Secretary or any person designated by the Permanent Secretary. The movement of the aquatic organisms is deemed to have been approved if the Permanent Secretary does not reply within 3 months from the date of notification.
The Minister's written permission is also required to import or export aquatic organisms and is subject to conditions determined by the Minister. Further to this, subject to the Public Services Act (1995) the Minister may designate any staff member in the Ministry as an inspector for the purposes of the Act. Such Inspectors may inspect any aquatic organisms before or after they are imported and inspect any aquatic organisms that are destined for export. The Minister may seize, hold, quarantine, disinfect or destroy any live aquatic organism that have been imported or are destined for import or export. All equipment, materials and structures employed on an aquaculture facility shall be constructed, installed and maintained so as to prevent escapes.
Upon the advice of the Minister responsible for public health, the Permanent Secretary may restrict the movement of any aquatic organisms infected or thought to be infected with a disease or harmful organism.
A licensee or any person, may not, for the purpose of marketing, sell, display or offer for sale, remove or transport from site any aquaculture product or aquatic organisms without complying with the Regulations.
Any person engaged in aquaculture must take all possible measures to prevent the spread of disease or any harmful organism in or from an aquaculture facility. This includes the destruction of aquatic organisms or aquaculture products, and the disinfection of aquaculture facilities. The licensee shall immediately comply with any measures that the Permanent Secretary may direct for this purpose.
The Minister may suspend or cancel a licence at any time if the licensee fails to report the presence of any disease or harmful organism; fails to take all possible measures to prevent the spread of disease or harmful organism, or fails to treat or destroy any aquatic organism that is or may be diseased or contains or may contain parasites.
The Aquaculture (Licensing) Regulations include more detailed provisions regarding health management and disease control. A person engaged in aquaculture shall immediately report to the Permanent Secretary or an aquaculture inspector any suspected outbreak of listed diseases or any occurrences of unusually high mortalities of cultured stocks. A national list of diseases of aquatic organisms is annexed to the Regulations.
During the time all or a portion of a facility is placed under quarantine, the Permanent Secretary may apply specific treatment methods, the destruction of infected stocks, their sanitary disposal, and the disinfection of the aquaculture facility and all associated equipment to standards set by the Ministry. Any costs associated with these measures are made payable by the owner of the infected licensed aquaculture facility.
The Permanent Secretary must maintain a record of aquaculture facilities subject to quarantine measures, including disinfection measures. The record shall contain:
To deal with emergency situations involving the outbreak of highly contagious and pathogenic diseases of aquatic organisms of known or unknown etiology, the Minister shall develop and implement a national contingency plan for disease control.
Any person engaged in aquaculture must maintain accurate and current records of the arrival, final sale or disposal of aquatic organisms kept at the aquaculture facility. Such records are to include full information on any mortalities, clinical signs observed, the nature and results of any diagnostic tests and the nature and results of any treatment applied to cultured stocks.
Furthermore, the Aquaculture (Licensing) Regulations provide that licensees are required to maintain accurate records with respect to:
When the Minister issues a licence, he might subject it to conditions related to the use of hormones for controlling reproduction or promoting growth and the use of drugs, antibiotics or other chemicals.
Under the Aquaculture (Licensing) Regulations, the Ministers may specify, through notice in the Gazette, the drugs, antibiotics and chemicals inadmissible to treat and prevent disease in aquaculture aquatic organisms, as well as those which use require the consent and supervision of the Minister.
For treatment and prevention of diseases of aquatic organisms, a licensee may apply only those drugs, antibiotics or other chemicals which are not prohibited under the Regulations.
For the special case of food safety regarding marine bivalves, the national shellfish sanitation monitoring programme is presently in draft regulation form.
The Agricultural Bank of Namibia Act (2003) establishes the Agricultural Bank of Namibia (Agribank) with the objective to promote agriculture and activities related to agriculture by lending money. This may include and benefit persons involved in aquaculture.
Aquaculture Policy (2001) - Towards Responsible Development of Aquaculture.