Fishing for Weapons

Suspicious fishing vessels might be hiding more than illegal fish catches.

Fishing for Weapons

by Paige M. Roberts

The Australian Navy confiscated an unlikely fishing haul in February, 2016: 2,000 AK-47s, 100 rocket-propelled grenade launchers, 49 machine guns and spare barrels, and 20 mortar tubes.

This arsenal was found hidden under fishing nets on an unregistered, stateless fishing vessel likely headed to Yemen or the Somali region. In March of this year, two more fishing vessels were discovered smuggling weapons off the Arabian Peninsula, indicating that suspicious fishing vessels might be hiding more than illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fish catches.

The causes of maritime crime include destabilizing factors common in the Western Indian Ocean region. Domestic catalysts of maritime crime include poverty, limited employment and economic options, overfishing, food insecurity, and government corruption.

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