Somalia: Puntland’s outgoing leader issues illegal fishing permits to foreign vessels


GAROWE, Somalia - As his 5-year term expires in 10 months, Puntland leader Said Abdullahi Deni turned his eyes to the lucrative projects in Federal State amid reports he is preparing for the 2026 Somali election.

Credible sources revealed to Garowe Online that Deni issued illegal fishing licenses to foreign firms secretly. This could fuel public anger and put fire to the ongoing Puntland political crisis.

Members of his family who are in his circle and close friends with political interests are in involved the project and signed the deals on behalf of the president, according to the insiders.

Garowe Online has learned that Deni gave the licenses to 65 fishing ships, including 35 vessels already operating illegally in Puntland waters. In Somalia, illegal fishing is a pervasive problem.

According to the sources, the Federal Ministry of Fisheries is alarmed by Deni’s illicit move and has submitted a complaint to the embassies of the countries belonging to the fishing firms.

As the season of “Tuna Harvest" begins on the coast of Somalia, a ship can catch in 45 days an estimated $1 million worthy fish. The companies agreed to pay 200,000 dollars per ship.

Puntland’s Ministry of Fisheries, according to the reports is not aware of the clandestine fishing deal, as it has not been presented to the cabinet and the Parliament in accordance with the constitution.

The sources also said that the US expressed concern over Deni’s illegal actions. Recently, American security agencies met with the leader at the Bosaso airport and asked him questions about the illegal permits he issued.

The waters off Somalia are some of the richest fishing grounds in the world and are still largely untapped. The Horn of Africa country loses between US$100 million and US$450 million per year to illegal fishing carried out by foreign vessels.

Garowe Online is digging deeper into this matter and will publish the names of the individuals involved in the illegal fishing.


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