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Illegal fishing in Somali waters hits all-time high-Report

Fishing VesselMuqdisho-Mustaqbal Radio–A new report published on Monday shows that foreign illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Somali waters by foreign fleets is reducing fish stocks, and has caused widespread resentment among Somali coastal communities, threatening renewed maritime insecurity.Entitled Securing Somali Fisheries, the report shows that foreign industrial IUU fishing vessels catch over 132,000 metric tons of fish each year, while the Somali artisanal fleet catches only 40,000 metric tons.

The report is produced by Secure Fisheries, a program of the One Earth Future Foundation and developed as part of Oceans Beyond Piracy.

The report uses published and unpublished data, interviews with Somalis and regional experts, and unveils new satellite evidence of IUU fishing.

Iran and Yemen have the largest fishing presence in Somali waters, while vessels from Europe and Asia also have landed significant catches.

The report shows foreign IUU fishing in Somali waters has been a problem for decades. During the 1990s, IUU fishing was a justification for pirate attacks in Somali waters.

And though Somali pirates quickly shifted their focus toward more lucrative vessels, such as cargo ships and oil tankers, piracy appears to have caused many foreign fishing vessels to leave the area.

But recently this trend has reversed. According to John Steed, Secure Fisheries Regional Manager for the Horn of Africa, “Illegal fishing was the pretext used by criminal gangs to shift from protectionism to armed robbery and piracy.