Somalia fights back against illegal fishing

Somalia fights back against illegal fishing

Mogadishu (HOL) – The owners of the Belize-registered, Panamanian-vessel Greko 1 have been fined for illegal and unreported fishing in Somali waters and have paid a $65,000 fine to the Federal Government of Somalia. The vessel is currently impounded in a Mombassa port and will be released since payment was received.

Greko 1 was detained by the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) in October after an inspection of the vessel turned up 30 tons of frozen fish. The operators were subsequently charged with possession of forged authorizations and licenses to operate in Somali waters; fishing in Somali waters within 24 nautical miles of the coastline; not providing catch reports; and for the use of banned fishing gear, specifically trawling gear, prohibited under the Somali Fisheries Law.

The vessel attempted to illegally depart Somali waters and enter the Port of Mombassa. The MFMR alerted the Kenyan authorities that the fishing vessel was en route who promptly detained it at their port. Both Kenyan and Somali authorities worked together to ensure that the Greko 1 paid the fine.

US Ambassador to Somalia Stephen Schwartz commended the collaboration between the two nations.

“The United States Government congratulates the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources (MFMR) in their efforts to reduce illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in Somalia. The recent inspection of the Greko 1 and subsequent payment of the fine demonstrates to the international fishing community that Somalia is committed to protecting its natural resources.  The strong coordination between the Federal Government of Somalia and the Kenyan authorities represents the pinnacle in international collaboration necessary to combat illegal activities. We particularly applaud the actions of FGS Deputy Minister Said Jama, who ensured a transparent and speedy resolution to this affair through the personal contacts he had developed through the Fish-i-Africa network”.

Since the collapse of the Somali government in 1991, Somalia has struggled to protect its fishery resources. Foreign fishing corporations have taken advantage of the instability of the region and have been fishing in the Somali’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) unhindered. The illegal fishing threatens Somalia’s coastal communities and many analysts have pointed to illegal fishing to be the impetus that drives piracy in Somalia.