WITHOUT TRANSPARENCY THERE IN NO SUSTAINABILITY!!
Somalia has the longest coastline in mainland Africa and one of the richest fishing grounds in the world. Somali waters have been out of control since the fall of the central government 1991. Large foreign fishing vessels seized the opportunity to begin looting and pouching of marine resources. According to reports, illegal fishing costs Somalia between US$140-400 million per year in lost revenue. Sadly, some of the world most powerful fishing companies are stealing from some of the world poorest people.
Recently, the Somali government has granted 31 fishing licences to the China Overseas Fisheries Association. The one-year fishing deal worth only US$1m was singed very much in secret and not made in public. More recently, it was conformed that no Somali observers on board which is a clear violation of the Somali Fisheries Law. Despite the deal isn’t worth it, we don’t know fishing quotas or total allowable catch of each vessel. We also don’t know what kind of fishing gears they will use as long there is no Somali observers on board to monitor fishing activities.
The Ministry of FMR will only monitor these 31 licenced vessels through the Vessel Monitoring System (not sure if the VMS working). They never really answered my questions on this issue. Before ten days ago, I have written a several emails to all concerned including Indian Ocean Tuna Commission asking about the catch transshipment which is illegal at sea unless the presence of IOTC observers. I have also contacted to Seychelles Fishing Authority on their website to ask if Seychelles will monitor Somali licenced vessels as proposed by the World Bank report in 2016. As of now, I still have not received a response from them.
The scaring, Chinese fishing companies are well-known to violate fisheries regulations, destructive fishing practices, and overfished many Asian and African countries, threatened their economies and destroyed small-scale fisheries (research it on Google!). In Somalia, Chinese vessels used to fish illegally as we able to identify 7 of the current licenced vessels already involved illegal fishing in Somali waters in 2015. Currently operating vessels will pose a direct threat to the fish stocks, livelihoods and food security of Somali people.