The Fishing Industry in Namibia

Namibia is not a country that is commonly associated with water. Yet the fertile coastline of 1 570 km and the Kavango and Upper Zambezi river systems in the north provide ample resources for Namibia’s fishing industry. Aside from the commercial vessel and inland fisheries recreational fishing and aquaculture are promising to play an important role in Namibia’s future economy.

Marine Fishing

The icy cold but nutrient rich Benguela Current makes Namibia’s coastline one of the world’s richest fishing grounds. Namibia harvests up to 600 000 metric tonnes  of fish and shellfish yearly including hake, monkfish, pilchard, rock lobster and horse mackerel. The fishing industry currently contributes 5.5% to Namibia’s GDP.

Freshwater Fishing

In the water rich regions of Kavango and Caprivi fishing is an important source of food and income for more than 90% of the household in this area. Commercial fishing provides and income for 45% of the households, while tourists, who come to fish, provide added jobs and income for the community. Species commonly caught in the Kavango and Upper Zambezi river systems are tilapia, carp, catfish and tigerfish.


Mariculture and freshwater aquaculture are two of the most promising sectors in Namibia’s economy. With lots of potential for the future Namibia is aiming to develop aquaculture to create job, provide food security and increase investment in this sector. Mariculture in Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Lüderitz are already producing abalone and seaweed. The most promising project is the culturing of rock lobster. If the experimental culturing scheme is successful the commercial farming of rock lobster could generate high profits.

Northern Namibia is already culturing several fresh water species including tilapia, catfish and carp. Overall the aquaculture industry grew from N$2 million in 2005 to N$150 million in 2009. Culturing species such as rock lobster, freshwater prawns, marine shrimps, dusky kob, rainbow trout, scallops and clams could turn aquaculture into a highly beneficial industry for Namibia.

Recreational Fishing

Recreational fishing is a popular pastime with locals and overseas visitors. ‘Rock and surf’ angling on the pristine coast north of Swakopmund is particularly popular around the Christmas season. Linefish species include snoek, galjoen, kob, blacktail and West Coast steenbras. The rivers of northern Namibia provide great freshwater angling. Tilapia, carp, catfish and tigerfish are popular catches in the Kavango and Upper Zambezi river systems. Especially the tigerfish with his sharp teeth is known to put up a good fight and tigerfishing attracts many avid anglers from overseas.