We shall not allow foreign vessels fishing illegally in our waters, Somalia says
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Somalia will increase surveillance in its waters to thwart cases of illegal fishing, authorities have said, just weeks after the country managed to win a maritime case against the Republic of Kenya at the International Court of Justice [ICJ].
According to Attorney General Suleiman Mohamed Mohamud who addressed the media on Tuesday, foreign vessels will no longer have access to the waters, adding that ships would be seized besides taking stringent actions against those operating them.
The Attorney General further said the Federal Government of Somalia will outline new measures to combat illegal fishing, saying the small-scale fishermen have suffered immensely due to the activities, which have been going on for a while.
“Illegal fishing in Somalia is a national disaster and one of the biggest catastrophes to Somalia's resources,” he said, noting that Somalia’s resources have remained unexplored for decades due to certain lapses.
Somalia has one of the largest coastlines in the world measuring 3,333 KM, taking a huge chunk of the Indian Ocean. However, the waters have often been misused by foreigners who take advantage of the lack of security measures along the coast.
In July 2021, a report by the Global Initiative against transnational organized crime noted the waters off Somalia are some of the richest fishing grounds in the world and are still largely underutilized.
The explosive report noted that piracy had significantly reduced in the Horn of Africa nation, adding that foreign fishing fleets have gradually returned to Somali waters without authorization from authorities in Mogadishu.
Quite a number of vessels especially those originating in Iran, Yemen, and South East Asia, routinely engage in illegal, unreported, and unregulated [IUU] fishing practices, making the country lose millions of dollars that should directly be pumped to the struggling economy.
The report also mentioned a number of government bureaucrats who are said to be working closely with foreign companies to facilitate unregulated fishing along the oil-rich coastline. Somalia will be holding presidential elections by the end of this year.
Somali Government officials have also been accused of using the resources to boost their chances of retaining government ahead of 2021 polls. A fortnight ago, Somalia increased its territorial spaces in the Indian Ocean following the ICJ ruling which slashed portions of the Indian Ocean previously owned by Kenya.