There is a cry coming out from the waters of the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea off the Somalia’s coastal towns of Gara’ad, Obbia, Merka and Kismayo, Berbera, Lasqorey, Bosaso and Alula – loud and painful cries both from the costal fishing communities and marine lives alike; cries for help to stop illegal fishing with banned fishing gear, toxic dumping, destruction of the environment and fish habitats (coral reefs)), fishing boats and nets of local fishermen.
With thousands of foreign fishing trawlers and mother ships out in the ocean and sea off the shores of the above coastal Somali towns, the lights blinking and glittering from these ships resemble big cities of the 21st century by night time.
Most are engaged in deep-sea fishing, destroying fish environment, disrupting fish mating seasons, smashing eggs in the billions and dipiladating reefs and mating hideouts for good. Local fishermen are devastated and alarmed to see daily the destruction of their boats and nets for their own subsistance use. It is equally saddening and threatening to discover daily dead and seemingly poisoned fish washing out to the shores as well as containers of suspicious contents. Many coastal community residents suffer from strange diseases, skin diseases, epidemic premature births, what you and what not.
Illegal fishing and toxic dumping are known to be the root causes of sea piracy off the coast of Somalia. Sea Piracy eventuallly turned into organized criminal industry with international business connections.
Over the years, various Somali regional and warlord administrations have been issuing fishing licenses to foreign vessels and firms on a sell-all and sale-out corruption schemes. The Federal Government has now started getting into the game by entering into foreign fishing contracts; issuing licenses they have neither the capacity to enforce them nor the expertise to prevent the use of banned fishing gear.
Today, Garowe, the Capital City of the State of Puntland, is hosting a meeting of all Somalia’s fishery ministers, Federal and State level, presumably to deliberate on fishing resources sharing and never have the protection of the environment in mind.
This is a nation up for grabs by all financial and business crooks of the world. There is a cry for help from those who care about mother earth for healthy ecosystem and protection of livelihoods of defenceless poor people.
By Ismail Warsame