On November 21, fishing communities around the world celebrate World Fisheries Day, established 20 years ago by the World Fisheries Forum. World Fisheries Day highlights the centrality of fisheries to food security, economy, and culture in coastal communities. Fishing communities commemorate the holiday through various activities, from community meetings to live music shows. While World Fisheries Day is a positive celebration and appreciation of the role fisheries play in coastal communities, it also aims to increase awareness of the problems that threaten fisheries sustainability and what that means for the communities that rely on them.
In the Somali region, fisheries are integral to livelihoods in coastal communities. Somali fishers are primarily artisanal, catching fish close to shore with wooden canoes and handlines. While Somalis were not traditionally fishers, the sector has expanded and domestic consumption has increased. Fishing provides full or part-time employment to around 10,000 Somali fishers and 30,000 - 60,000 others in the fisheries sector. Fisheries exports are on the rise and fish is increasingly being consumed in large cities, like Mogadishu.
Fisheries provide Somalis with a lot to celebrate, but Somalis continue to face obstacles in the fisheries sector. They desire greater fishing capacity and struggle to compete with foreign fishers. Jama Ahmed Mohamed, owner of the Alla Aamin Fishing Company, claims they currently operate with fishing gear used 100 years ago. Somali fishers struggle from lack of resources and infrastructure, such as fish finding technology and cold storage. Outdated equipment makes it even more difficult for Somalis to compete with foreign fishers, who catch three times as much fish and, in some instances, threaten the physical safety of local fishers.
While fishing communities around the world celebrate World Fisheries Day, they also cope with problems like those in the Somali region which threaten their livelihoods and the sustainability of their fisheries. On November 21, it is our responsibility to appreciate the role fisheries play worldwide and take steps to ensure fisheries can continue to contribute to the communities that rely on them.
Here are five things you can do, from Africa Geographic:
- Reduce your plastic usage
- Look after our beaches
- Only eat sustainable seafood
- Avoid products that harm our seas
- Support organizations protecting the ocean