Have you ever thought of how the fresh and delicious fish from Walvis Bay made its way to your plate?  A lot factors are taken into account just to ensure that we get to consume fish in our homes.

On the 31 March 2017, the Hanns Seidel Foundation Environmental Awareness and Climate Change Project together with partners, Progress Namibia, the National Youth Council (NYC), the Namibia Youth Coalition on Climate (NYCCC) and the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) hosted the second Game for Sustainability, called the Harvest Game, at the House of Democracy in Windhoek West. 

The Harvest game brought together a group of 18 climate-conscious youth of all ages who were eager to participate and engage with each other the facilitators to understand the dynamics of the fishing industry. The game was facilitated by Michael Mulunga from the National Youth Council who made sure that participants grasped the importance of managing a common resource such as the sea in an environmentally sustainable manner, thus avoiding depletion of Namibia’s resources, namely the ocean and fish.

The Harvest game links with SDG 14 related to life below water and was a great teaching tool as it offered participants an opportunity to walk in the shoes of big fishing companies who are usually faced with the challenging task of maximizing profits against possible long-term consequences of using a limited natural resource, such as fish. Participants' planning and negotiation skills were put to test as they had to convince the imaginary minister of fisheries on the number of fish they wanted to catch for a particular season. It was however interesting to see how some fishing companies were solely profit driven, illustrated by the number of fish they caught during a particular season. This resulted in dire consequences for the fishing companies as the sea could no longer meet all the fishing company’s quotas, as more fish were caught than the what the fish population could replace through natural production.  Participants experimented with different modes of cooperation and partnership to avoid the depletion of fishing stock by considering the needs of other fishing companies, using sustainable-use policies and valuing long-term welfare above short-term gain. However, at the end of the game it became clear that the ocean could not sustain the unsustainable demands of the companies and not only did the ocean stocks of fish collapse due to unsustainable fishing practices and the impacts of climate change but also the fishing industry collapsed and many jobs were lost. 

According to one of the participants, Robert McGregor, “the game made me realise how we are all directly affected by unsustainable fishing practices. It gave me more insight into how competition within the industry, as well as how government failure to effectivley coordinate fishing quotas, can rapidly deplete the fish stock and collapse an entire industry.” Participants highlighted that the fishing industry needs to be protected more strictly, as it is one of the sectors that can address numerous social issues such as poverty eradication in Namibia. Participants further stressed that there is a need for more control and compliance of legislation by both the fisheries ministry and the fishing companies, so that fishing stocks are protected from illegal exploitation. 

The next Game for Sustainability is scheduled for the last Friday of April 2017, at the House of Democracy Offices (70-72 Frans Indongo street, Windhoek West).