SOMALIA: Puntland bans illegal fishing, warns foreign vessels

by Abdalle Ahmed

Bosasso (RBC) The Puntland state of Somalia today off officially banned any kind of illegal fishing and issued a strict warning to the foreign vessels coming into its northeastern waters, RBC Radio reports.

In a statement released today, the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources of Puntland said it has terminated all fishing licenses previously granted to the foreign vessels while the ministry also warned of any claims of holding legal license.

“Starting from today on 11th March 2014, The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources terminated issuing fishing licenses to the all foreign and Somali-owned vessels.” the Ministry’s statement said.

The ban is excluded from the local fishing community in the coastal towns of Puntland, according to the statement seen by Raxanreeb Online.

“Any group of entity claiming to have a valid license of fishing in Puntland coastal areas should get in touch with the ministry within two weeks.  Any claim after that deadline will not be considered.” the statement added.

Last week, in a bid to eliminate the growing illegal fishing in the region’s waters and coastal towns, Puntland Coastguards arrested five Yemeni illegal fishermen and their vessel after anti-illegal fishing operation conducted by the region’s coastguards.

Somalia waters and its sea resources have been exploited by rapid foreign illegal fishing and toxic waste dumping following the collapse of its late powerful government in 1990, one of the key factors that led to the rampant piracy in the Horn of African nation between 2008 and 2012.


Maritime Security News Note:
This could get interesting. On March 4th, members of the Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF), previously better known for the pirate-fighting duties, seized a Yemeni ship which had allegedly been illegally fishing in their waters. They also took two “Somali mercenaries” into custody. It has long been rumoured that pirates were hiring themselves out as guards to foreign fishing vessels. Truly, poachers turned gamekeepers.

The news that Puntland has now decided to ban illegal fishing (um… surely an oxymoron) and terminate all licences issued to foreign vessels could see an increase in the number of ships and trawlers stopped by the PMPF. The coming weeks could get very lively. The prospects of gunfights at sea between the PMPF and recalcitrant fishing vessels are all too real, and some of those ships carry heavy weapons. It will be equally interesting to see how the naval coalitions react to panicked calls on VHF Channel 16 in the coming days…


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