Somalia’s New Pirates
Somalia is blessed with the largest coastline in continental Africa, and its marine waters are some of the most productive in the world. But, for more than 30 years, this bountiful marine wilderness has also been a source and site of conflict, as illegal foreign fishing operations plunder its riches.
MOGADISHU – Somalia is blessed with the largest coastline in continental Africa. Our rich marine waters are some of the most productive in the world, teeming with schools of yellowfin tuna, blue marlin, dolphinfish, and sardines. For more than 30 years, however, this bountiful marine wilderness has also been a source and site of conflict, as foreign illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing vessels have plundered our waters – stealing our fish and selling their catches at distant ports.
Just a few years ago, the encroachment of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing vessels sparked a wave of piracy in Somalia that cost the global maritime shipping industry billions of dollars in lost revenue. As illegal foreign fishing vessels fled our waters, Somali pirates quickly shifted their focus toward more lucrative vessels, such as cargo ships and oil tankers. And, now that piracy has mostly been eliminated, there is growing evidence that foreign fishing vessels have returned to plunder our waters once again.
A new report by the group Secure Fisheries, called Securing Somali Fisheries unveils new satellite data showing that foreign IUU fishing vessels are now catching three times more fish than Somalis. They are targeting some of the highest-value fish in our waters, leaving their Somali counterparts to compete over lower-value fish.
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