The Banadir Regional Court in Somalia has reopened a case against 36 Iranian and Pakistani fishermen who were previously convicted of unlicensed fishing operations. The defendants were apprehended off Hobyo’s coast, in the Mudug region, and are currently appealing their convictions.
The court had previously fined each defendant $11,000 and ordered a collective payment of $30,000 to the Somali government for compensation of the illegally harvested fish. The case had been reviewed three times before a verdict was issued, according to Salah Ali Mohamud, the Chairman of the Banadir Regional Court.
Mohamud stated that the verdict reinforces the Somali government’s commitment to protect marine resources, fight against illegal fishing, and hold foreign fishermen accountable for violations. The Somali Ministry of Fisheries and Blue Economy has reported an increase in the number of foreign vessels operating illegally in the Somali Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) since January 2023.
These illicit activities, classified as Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, have been causing considerable environmental and economic damage to the region for decades. IUU fishing is a global problem that threatens the sustainability of fish stocks, affects the livelihoods of coastal communities, and undermines efforts to promote responsible and sustainable fisheries management.
Somalia has been particularly affected by IUU fishing due to its strategic location, vast coastline, and weak governance. The country has been struggling to rebuild its fisheries sector, which has been devastated by years of conflict, piracy, and illegal fishing. The Somali government has been working with international partners and regional organizations to combat IUU fishing and improve fisheries management.
The reopening of the case against the Iranian and Pakistani fishermen sends a strong message that Somalia is determined to enforce its laws and protect its marine resources. It also highlights the need for international cooperation and coordination to address the root causes of IUU fishing and promote sustainable fishing practices.
The Somali Ministry of Fisheries and Blue Economy has called on foreign vessels to respect its laws and regulations and to obtain the necessary permits and licenses before fishing in Somali waters. The ministry has also urged international partners to support Somalia’s efforts to combat IUU fishing and build a sustainable fisheries sector that benefits both the country and the region.