Al Jazeera discusses Securing Somali Fisheries – IUU Fishing and Piracy

Illegal overfishing and the return of Somalia’s pirates

Plunder of Somali waters by foreign fishing vessels could mean the return of hijackings, locals warn

By Jessica Hatcher – Al Jazeera

Durduri, Somalia - A hundred years ago, it was a bustling port that served the vibrant fishing community living along Somalia's coastline, the longest on mainland Africa. Now, Durduri is a sun-bleached, wind-swept, white-sand graveyard of stone structures. There is no harbour, no jetty. The drying and smoking house is just a tumble of bricks. This is one of many historical coastal trading towns that have risen and fallen with empires. When the busy trade routes moved away, fishing was one of the few lifelines left.

Talk to locals now and you will find this too has dried up - they say there are no more fish in the sea. They blame not the pirates who brought the attention of international law enforcement to Somalia's waters, but the foreign fishing boats that have plundered sea-life stocks. And if things don't change, they say, a return to piracy will be their only way of survival…

… From 12 months' research, the agency Secure Fisheries found the amount of fish being harvested is unsustainable. Illegal vessels are harvesting tuna stocks at the maximum capacity, leaving nothing for Somalis, it said. "Piracy can come back because people have nothing," said elder Saed Jama Yusuf, speaking at the harbour in Bosaso, where his fellow fishermen bemoaned their feeble catches. "We will make preparations, gather our resources for funds."…

… "If the government doesn't authorise me to fight illegal fishing, I can't," he said. "Since NATO has been here, piracy is down but illegal fishing has increased. NATO and the EU never help us, never give us a hand."

Robert Mazurek, director of the Secure Fisheries agency, told Al Jazeera "the international community has done very little to combat [illegal] fishing in Somali waters".

Asked for a response to the accusation, NATO responded: "Actions to counter illegal fishing would breach the scope and capabilities of the mission”…

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