EU Naval Force Meets Somali Fishing Representatives and Elders on ITS San Giusto
On Monday, 29 October 2012, the Force Commander of the EU Naval Force Somalia – Operation Atalanta (EU NAVFOR), Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino, met with local Somali fishing representatives, clan elders of coastal communities and local authorities on board the EU NAVFOR flagship, ITS San Giusto, off the northern coast of Somalia, near Bossaso.
This meeting was the first time that EU NAVFOR has engaged with representatives of local Somali fishing and coastal communities under the Somali Seafarers Initiative (SSI).
SSI is an initiative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UNFAO) and the EU Naval Force, aimed at understanding fishing and security at sea for fishermen, from a local perspective.
SSI is a long-term project that aims to build lasting relationships based on understanding and mutual trust between EU NAVFOR and key representatives of Somali coastal fishing communities and local leaders.
By listening and talking to each other the parties exchanged views on the fight against piracy, the role of EU NAVFOR and the problems local fishermen face in Somalia and at sea. Moreover, the objective of SSI is to reassure local fishermen that the Naval Forces operating in the area are not a threat and that there is no reason to be scared of the military presence. Thus, SSI aims to encourage Somali fishermen to return to sea and re-establish fisheries livelihoods in Somalia as an alternative to piracy.
All those involved agreed that piracy cannot be stopped at sea alone, and that a solution must come from the land. Upon completion, all present expressed the wish that this be the first of a series of future meetings.
“This is the first time that we have met” – said Rear Admiral Credendino – “and we all sincerely hope that this is the first step on a long path we will walk together”.
During the meeting, much of the focus was on the role that the recently created EUCAP Nestor mission will have in building the maritime capabilities of Somalis.
EUCAP Nestor is a civilian mission conducted under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and augmented with military expertise. The objectives of EUCAP Nestor are to:
- Strengthen the Rule of Law sector in Somalia, with an initial focus on the regions of Puntland and Somaliland. In particular, the mission will support the development of a coastal police force and the judiciary.
- Strengthen the sea going maritime capacity of Djibouti, Kenya and the Seychelles.
Additionally, the EU is supporting the development of the Somali fishing sector under the regional “SmartFish Programme” (total regional funding: 21 Million euro) implemented with the UNFAO. The EU also has a strict policy against illegal fishing (IUU) and all EU flagged fishing vessels have been requested to remain outside the 200 nautical mile zone off the coast of Somali. This has also been recommended by Atalanta.