Illegal and Unregulated Fishing in Somalia Report 2015

Published September 16, 2015 – by Naomi Senda

illegal fishing

It is difficult to estimate the losses that foreign illegal vessels cause in Somalia. Annual estimates range from US$ 100 million to over US$450 million.

In addition to loss in revenue, illegal vessels cause overfishing, reduce fish stocks, affect local catches, harm the marine environment and destroy fishing communities by denying opportunities to catch and export fish. Illegal fishing causes loss of employment in fishing and post-harvest fish handling as loss of revenue that could be generated from landing fees, license fees, taxes and other revenues payable by legal fishing companies.

The indirect harm of Illegal and Unregulated (IUU) fishing to Somalia includes lost income and employment in other sectors in the supply chain upstream (i.e., fishing gear, boats and equipment, etc.) and downstream (i.e., fish processing and packaging, marketing and transport, etc.) from the fishing operation itself . Additionally, illegal fishing vessels use reckless fishing operations. They leave behind them irreversible impacts on target species, the marine ecosystem and vulnerable species such as coral reefs, dugongs and turtles. Furthermore, IUU fishing directly affects fishermen’s livelihoods. It destroys their fishing nets and threatens them at sea by mistaking them for pirates thus depriving them of fully exercising their livelihoods.

The Somali fishery sector is predominantly small-scale. Fishermen use open fiberglass skiffs ranging in length from three to six meters. Most are motorized and equipped with an outboard engine or to a lesser extent, an inboard engine. The average fisherman has been fishing for about 15 years and is on average 38 years old. Most have an elementary level education and live in households with about eight members. More than half own their fishing boats and 50% are members of fishing cooperatives. Over a third fish within 10 km of their communities while 50% of the fishermen fish within 50 km of their communities.

Managing the fisheries begins with registration of fishermen and fishing boats. Fifty-four percent of fishermen reported no requirement for fishing boat registration or painting registration numbers on their vessels while 12% percent did not know about these requirements. When asked which entity was responsible for fishing boat registration, 41% identified the fisheries office and 47% identified the port authority. The latter plays that role in Somaliland and Puntland, while the fisheries office does so in the other states. The absence of information on the number and size of vessels, engine horsepower, and the types and sizes of fishing gear makes management decisions more difficult, if not impossible, to assess optimum sustainable yields.

For more information on IUU Fishing in Somalia and suggested recommendations, read the full report here: Adeso IUU Final Report 2015

Watch the video below to learn about the perspective of people affected on the ground.