EU NAVFOR celebrates #WorldFisheriesDayNovember 21, 2018 - 13:36
Fisheries and aquaculture employ more than 43 million individuals worldwide. For Somalia, the country with the longest coastline of continental Africa, the fisheries sector has a large impact on income and sources of food for the local people. Since part of EU NAVFOR’s mandate is to monitor fishing activity in Somali waters, we keep track of any unusual behaviour or activities to protect seafarers and thus allow fishing communities to thrive.
The subject of fishing – and fishing licences – is a contentious one in Somalia, where it is a widely held belief that large numbers of foreign fishing vessels are emptying national waters without paying for a licence. While this does not correspond with the volume of fishing activity EU NAVFOR witnesses, this misunderstanding can result in quarrels at sea. It underlines that a well-regulated and well-managed fishing industry is not only of interest for the economic development of a country, but also for the safety and well-being of those whose livelihoods depend on it.
On the morning of Sunday 18 November, EU NAVFOR’s Spanish warship, ESPS Castilla, carried out a friendly approach on a Yemeni-owned dhow. The dhow was on its way to procure a fishing licence at the time, and many of the crew members were from Somalia.
Whilst on board the dhow, the marines explained that EU NAVFOR warships and aircraft also patrol the coast of Somalia to help prevent armed pirates attacking seafarers. Moreover, if a non-Somali fishing vessel is observed by EU NAVFOR as fishing in Somali waters, information will be gathered on the vessel and forwarded to the European Commission. The EU shares this information with the UN’s Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), which governs fishing activity in the Indian Ocean to ensure healthy and sustainable fish stocks. The IOTC, in turn, shares this information with its member states, which may choose to seek prosecution of fisheries crimes if deemed appropriate.
Also on 18 November, EU NAVFOR’s Italian warship, ITS Federico Martinengo, conducted two friendly approaches with fishing vessels in Somali waters.
In October 2018, EU NAVFOR supported the implementation of a UN Food & Agriculture Organization project aimed to enhance the capacities of fishing communities in Somalia. The EU-funded but FAO-implemented Coastal Communities Against Piracy (CCAP) project aims to provide training and support to artisanal fishermen along the coast. This CCAP project is just one of the many projects that the EU is supporting to promote security and development in the region.
Both EU NAVFOR warships are now continuing with their counter-piracy patrols along the Somali coast as part of the European Union’s effort to help make the waters in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden safe from the risk of piracy-related crime. EU NAVFOR is committed to deterring acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea to allow the free flow of international commerce.
We wish all those engaged in the fisheries industry a happy and safe World Fisheries Day
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