Managing Namibia's marine fisheries : optimal resource use and national development objectives
Prior to independence, Namibia's marine fisheries had suffered over-fishing, typical of open access exploitation of a common pool resource where there is excess demand. The Namibian Government's policy objectives seek optimal sustainable use of Namibia's fisheries resources and a substantial increase for Namibians of benefit from these resources. In assessing the appropriateness of Namibia's fisheries management system for meeting these objectives, state involvement in the management of the resource is considered, the biological and ecological constraints of the resource are examined and the degree to which national management of fisheries is nested in a global system of fisheries governance is defined. Empirical evidence establishes the critical importance of successfully managing these resources through environmental shocks and the importance for the industry of sufficient economic flexibility, often hindered by overcapacity, to cope with those shocks. Even at low, sub-optimal biomass levels, evidence suggests that substantial resource rent accrues to industry as abnormal profit, or finances overcapacity. Government attempts to redistribute benefit from the resource have been only partly successful. These findings establish the importance of state intervention to ensure that capacity is reduced as close as possible to a bio-economic optimal level, thus maximising resource rent. Collection by the state of a larger proportion of available resource rent would make it less possible for abnormal profits to be earned and make rent less available for financing over-capacity. The additional state finance, representing benefit from the resource, could be directed by the state towards more effective usage in the development process. The management of Namibia's marine fisheries will best be achieved by working towards a system of co-management between the state and industry, providing a framework for nested institutions tailored to the conditions of each fishery, in a joint endeavour to generate a socially optimal use of the resource.