By Ali Omar Ghedi
The issue of piracy in the coast of Somalia began in 1990, when foreign vessels flocked to Somalia’s unguarded coast, profiting the marine resources and at times dumping radioactive chemical wastes as evidenced with the barrels of the 2004 Tsunami that surfaced on the northeastern coastal towns of Somalia.
According to a report issued by the UN in 2006, Somalia loses annually more than “$300 million worth of seafood” for illegal fishery by foreign vessels. As a result, the country’s coast has become the hotbed for all illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) activities. As one expert noted, the amount of resources that is lost to IUU is “staggering sum.”
That, however, was the context of piracy as we know it today. The violent reaction was particularly prompted when foreign vessels attacked the fishing nets of Somali fishermen, freezing both activities of fishermen and their livelihoods, using trawlers and water hoses to submerge local boats, which often remain rudimentary and traditional in nature.
Clearly, the Somali public see piracy differently than how the international community portrays it – as a global threat against international maritime trade. For a majority of Somali public, piracy is simply an alternative to formal coast guard that protect marine resources and the territorial sovereignty of Somalia. They view that these armed pirates are godsend sons of Somalia to provide public services and protect the seashore in the absence of Somali federal government.
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