Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fishermen of Somalia

An article published this week in numerous international media, including the Huffington Post, states that piracy around the Horn of Africa is in decline. Statistics are quoted to show that piracy attacks in that region are falling, however no statistics are quoted about the forms of piracy occurring in the area - the IUUs and toxic waste dumping.

Another article by the creator of Somali Report, Robert Young Pelton, also points out that piracy is decreasing and also cites the fact that only 1% of commercial ships that travel around the Horn of Africa are attacked.

But one article published this week, Somalia's fishermen struggle to make a living from pirate-infested seas, does not appear to be getting the same amount of coverage as the above two. This article interviews the chairperson of the Banadir fishermen's union, who talks about the difficulties facing Mogadishu's fishermen - both on land and at sea. He says that although Somalia has the longest coastline in Africa, they are the 'poorest fishermen in Africa'.

One fisherman in the article states, "There's no dignity in being a fisherman any more, At sea, armed men in speedboats search you because they say you look like a pirate and when you come back soldiers can shoot you if you return outside curfew hours." (The fisherman was referring to being shot at by African Union troops as he returns to port after 5pm)

There are several reasons that the fishermen of Somalia are struggling, but there can be no denying that the 'Coalition of the Willing' is a threat. Various media have reported on fishermen being killed and injured both at sea and on land, including Somali Report and Bloomberg. But not many of these cases are investigated, however in India two Italian marines have been charged with the murder of two Indian fishermen - killed on the assumption that they were pirates.

The seas around the Horn of Africa are dangerous - there are numerous navies, private security, floating armouries and mercenaries all supposedly patrolling this area to keep the international shipping lanes open. But there is neither little done to protect the fishermen and the environment from both IUUs and the dumping of toxic waste and nor is there adequate media coverage and investigation of what is happening in the waters around the Horn of Africa,

The IUUs and dumping of toxic waste needs to be stopped.