24 May 24, 2010 – 10:16:55 AM
by Andrew Mwangura
ANALYSIS | The devastating Somali civil war since 1991 forced the Somali marine and fisheries sector to an abrupt collapse and almost all Somali fisheries activities shut down. The vessels of the Somali national fishing fleet were abducted and have never been returned. It is estimated that at least 200,000 people lost their jobs and the Somali fishing communities are still struggling to recover.
However, illegal fishing by foreign fleets and the more serious nuclear and toxic waste dumping from the industrialised world pose since then an environmental, socio-economic and ecological threat, which is unparalleled.
Very sophisticated factory-style fishing-vessels, which were designed for distant-water fishing and travel from faraway countries, whose harbours are thousands of miles away from Somalia and whose own fisheries resources are either under tight legal protection or already drastically overexploited, poured into the unprotected Somali waters.
They are in search of high-priced tuna, mackerel, swordfish, grouper, emperor, snapper, shark and of course the other valuable species in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. With impunity they rob rock-lobster and shrimps for the tables of the wealthiest in this world, and dolphins, sea turtles and sea-cucumbers for the deranged tastes of the Far East. They have diminished the extraordinary population of dugong to near extinction.
Their task is solely oriented toward short-term gains, knowing the ecological limits, since Somalia does not only experience political but also resource displacement. Besides civil strife and outright war, the massive foreign fishing piracy, bringing criminal poaching and wanton destruction of the Somali marine resources for the last 19 years, may be one of the most damaging factors for the country, economically, environmentally and security-wise.