The Next Pirates?

The complaints made by Somali fishermen some years ago about illegal fishing are very similar to those being voiced by the fishermen of Senegal today. Is there a risk of Senegalese fishermen turning to piracy?

Will overfishing by foreigners drive Senegalese fishermen to piracy?

John Vidal for The Guardian

The fishermen of Joal say that if the foreign trawlers are not stopped, Senegal could end up like Somalia, with gun-toting pirates attacking shipping. But is there any evidence that over-fishing by Europeans or Chinese actually led to the fishermen of Somalia turning to piracy?

Here is Mohamed Abshir Waldo, a Kenya-based Somali journalist and analyst writing in 2009: “The origin [of the piracy] … goes back to 1992, after the fall of the Siad Barre regime and the disintegration of the Somali navy and police coastguard services. Following severe droughts in 1974 and 1986, tens of thousands of nomads, whose livestock were wiped out by the droughts, were re-settled all along the villages on the long Somali coast. They developed into large fishing communities, whose livelihood depended on inshore fishing. From the beginnings of the civil war in Somalia (as early as 1991-92) illegal fishing trawlers started to trespass and fish in Somali waters, including the 12-mile inshore artisanal fishing waters. The poaching vessels encroached on the local fishermen’s grounds, competing for the abundant rock-lobster and high-value pelagic fish in the warm, up-swelling 60kms deep shelf along the tip of the Horn of Africa …”

Waldo goes on to say that the fishermen took up arms to defend themselves and became a kind of coastguard. This analysis is backed by President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole, of Puntland, an autonomous region of northern Somalia, who told the London conference on Somali piracy last year…..[access full article]

See also: Arctic Sunrise captures EU trawlers plundering West African seas

Image courtesy of Greenpeace

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