Hobyo (MCRS) 12 July 2016 – The administration of Hobyo town has expressed concern over the increasing of foreign vessels which are illegally fishing in Somali waters.
Hobyo district commissioner, Abdullahi Ahmed Ali said dozens of foreign trawlers began fishing illegally en masse off the country’s Indian Ocean coast.
Ali said that as soon the international powers succeeded in bringing piracy under control, illegal fishing boats returned to Somali waters. Neither the EU nor NATO have a mandate to clamp down on the illegal vessels.
“Nato came because of the piracy, but the cause of piracy is the illegal fishing,” says Ahmed. “If Nato can chase away the pirates, then why not the illegal fishermen?”
The local fishermen have been complaining that they had faced continuous threats from foreign fishing boats which are equipped with weapons.
Abdi Ali, a fisherman in Hobyo underlined that the number of seafood has been decreased due the overfishing carried out by foreign vessels.
“Our job is in jeopardy, we have been several times chased by these vessels which are illegally taking our sea resources. We know that vessels benefit at the expense Somali fishermen and that is what has created the emergence of Somali pirates” he said.
He added that they stayed at their fearing for their dear lives after vessels poured them with hot water and destructed their nets.
Some fishermen have gone missing while others are tortured by the trawlers who at times spray boiling water from cannons.
While the world has shifted its attention elsewhere, marauding flotillas from countries such as Yemen, Iran and South Korea – in flagrant breach of international maritime law – have begun to plunder Somalia’s rich fishing grounds, plunging the local fishermen who hold up the town’s economy into financial ruin.
Overfishing, which devastated the livelihoods of coastal communities a decade ago, is regarded as the principal reason for the initial outbreak of piracy.
The waters off Somalia’s 1,880-mile coastline are among the richest fishing grounds in the world, teeming with shark, tuna, sardines, snapper and lobster.
The illegal fishermen, their rusty tubs flying flags of convenience and protected by armed Somali brigands from further up the coast, chase off local fishermen who come too close – ramming their boats, shooting at them or sabotaging their gear.
It’s a deadly fight that has raged largely unseen and unreported.