Iranian fishing vessels continue to ignore regulations in Somalia and Yemen

By Stop Illegal Fishing:3rd Nov, 2020: FISH-i Africa

Iranian flagged fishing vessels are continuing to operate without authorisation in the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of Yemen and Somalia – one of the largest illegal fishing fleets the Western Indian Ocean has ever seen.

While, evidence of these illegal operations was confirmed in early 2020 in November 2020 this illegal fleet is still seen to be operating in Somalia. Recent reports by Yemeni authorities have also drawn attention to illegal activity of around 40 Iranian fishing vessels active off Yemen’s Socotra archipelago and accused of harassing local crews. With no effective coastguard, Yemen is unable to conduct patrols or inspect foreign flagged vessels. In September 2020 Fahd Kafayn, Yemen’s Minister of Fisheries stated, “The Iranian vessels illegally fish and continuously violate Yemeni waters.”

In Somalia, in recent months over 100 Iranian flagged vessels have been identified transmitting their location via automatic identification system (AIS) transponders, fitted as a safety measure on vessels. A further 150 vessels have been seen using satellite remote sensing imagery, and while the identity and flag of these vessels cannot be confirmed, they are suspected to be mainly Iran flagged.

Iran has been notified through diplomatic channels but has up until now not responded to this outreach from the Federal Government of Somalia. Despite wide international concern about the scale of this illegal activity and the potential impact on marine ecosystems, food security and maritime security, these unauthorised Iranian vessels continue to defy regulations. Local media reported in October that there were a huge number of illegal foreign fishing vessels operating close to the coastline some were reported to be operating trawl nets, which are illegal in Somalia. Armed personnel with heavy machine guns were also identified on board the illegal fishing vessels. They reportedly used their weapons to force local fishers away from their fishing grounds with gunfire and damaged their fishing gears.

This challenge is not new, 2015 estimates from international organisation Secure Fisheries suggested that the annual average catch by Iranian vessels in Somalia could be over 100,000 metric tons. In response, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources of the Federal Government of Somalia, HE. Abdilahi Bidhan Warsame stated, “It is very concerning to see that foreign fleets are not prepared to go through the legitimate channels to gain access to fish in Somalia. We call on all distant water fishing nations to ensure they are controlling their flagged vessels and to respect our management regime.”

The FISH-i Africa Task Force continues to monitor vessel activity in the region. Per Erik Bergh, Stop Illegal Fishing, commented, “It is very worrying to see such a significant fleet operating outside of the flag State’s control. It is time that Iran fulfilled its obligations as a contracting party to the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission and ensured that its vessels have the necessary authorisations to fish as well as valid fishing licenses where they operate.  International attention and support will be needed to stop this environmental plunder.”

 

 

 

 

Recent Posts

Committee on Fisheries Thirty-fourth Session

1-5 February 2021 Rome, Italy For more information go to: http://www.fao.org/about/meetings/cofi/documents-cofi34/en/

Read More...

SADC Secretariat, Member States and partners, SIF and WWF take stock on progress in implementation of SDG 14

Sustainable development goal 14 (SDG 14) concerning life below water is a priority...

Read More...

Vessel Inspection: Fisheries Enforcement Phrase Book

Communication between fisheries inspectors and the master and crew of fishing vessels during...

Read More...

SIF News Categories

The Issues

One in four fish in Africa is caught illegally, this threatens the sustainability of fish stocks, damages the ecosystem and deprives governments of income and people of livelihoods.

Find Out More...

Our Approach

Creating change by informing policy and practice, our hands on experience and investigative work means we are often the first to spot new trends and find ways to challenge these.

Read More...

Our Initiatives

Illegal fishing is a complex issue that requires multifaceted responses. Stop Illegal Fishing are working with a range of organisations to bring about change.

Find Out More...

Recent Posts

Committee on Fisheries Thirty-fourth Session

1-5 February 2021 Rome, Italy For more information go to: http://www.fao.org/about/meetings/cofi/documents-cofi34/en/

Read More...

SADC Secretariat, Member States and partners, SIF and WWF take stock on progress in implementation of SDG 14

Sustainable development goal 14 (SDG 14) concerning life below water is a priority...

Read More...

Vessel Inspection: Fisheries Enforcement Phrase Book

Communication between fisheries inspectors and the master and crew of fishing vessels during...

Read More...