Somalia warns against Illegal foreign fishing in its waters

MOGADISHU, Somalia (Caasimada Online) – The Somali Ministry for Fisheries and Blue Economy has issued a stern warning to foreign nations against illegal fishing in Somalia’s waters.

The Ministry has underscored the illegal nature of such fishing activities, which deplete the country’s natural resources and impede its critical development objectives.

The statement made by the Ministry is in response to foreign fishing vessels operating within Somalia’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for the past two months, thereby disrupting the country’s marine ecology.

“The Ministry of Fisheries and Blue Economy of Somalia confirms that the evidence gathered from our fisheries monitoring center that there have been several fishing vessels from different foreign countries which were illegally fishing in Somali waters,” the statement read.

“Those evidence indicate that these vessels have been operating in the Somali EEZ since January 2023; this constitutes a significant threat to our sustainable fishing regulation and fish stock and a long-standing concern to the food security, economic development, and marine ecology of the country.”

Somalia boasts an extensive coastline stretching from Kiunga to Berbera in the north, underscoring its reliance on its marine resources.

Regrettably, illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing has been shared along the country’s coastline, resulting in significant losses for Somalia.

Illegal fishing licenses

The fishing vessels are accessing Somalia’s waters without any agreements or licenses, which can only be issued by the Federal Government’s Ministry of Fisheries and Blue Economy.

Despite clear regulations and orders from the government, the Puntland regional administration has been issuing fishing licenses, defying Mogadishu’s directive, which contravenes resource-sharing agreements between the federal government and the regional states.

Therefore, the Ministry has clarified that endorsement letters will no longer be considered valid legal permits.

“The Ministry of Fisheries and Blue economy of the Federal government confirms that all these fishing vessels are illegal and do not have any access agreement and fishing license from the Federal government,” the Ministry said.

“Pursuant to articles 11, 12,13 of the Somali fisheries law and article 54 of the constitution, granting fishing licenses to foreign vessels is a constitutional exclusive power of the Federal government, and foreign fishing permits can only be issued by the Minister of Fisheries and Blue Economy of the Federal government.”

Warning to foreign vessels

To address this situation, the Ministry has directed that all foreign vessels engaging in illegal fishing immediately cease their activities and comply with existing laws and regulations.

The Ministry has also emphasized that Somalia could generate millions of dollars in revenue if the fishing environment is properly regulated, which would significantly contribute to the country’s development.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has pledged to increase domestic revenue and reduce the country’s dependence on foreign aid. The country’s budget relies heavily on foreign aid, with little revenue generated domestically.