European Union must act against illegal fishing in Somalia and the Indian Ocean

Oceana welcomes Commissioner Borg’s commitment to act against European owned IUU fishing vessels

Press Release Date: May 11, 2010

Location: Madrid


Marta Madina | email: | tel.: Marta Madina

Oceana supports Commissioner responsible for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Joe Borg’s statements urging the European Union to act against IUU (Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated) fishing in Somalia and the Indian Ocean.  “Illegal fishing robs the Somalian people, one of the poorest of the world, of income or other benefits from their rich fish resources. Much of the fish is ending on the European markets”, says Oceana campaign director Ricardo Aguilar. “Any European mission in the Indian Ocean must help to fight against illegal fishing in Somalian waters. IUU fishing is a big problem in the Indian and other oceans. The EU has to include clear provisions in the IUU- and Control regulation and member States in their laws, that EU owners of IUU fishing boats are fined and their EU companies are closed.“

According to a 2005 report from the Marine Resources Assessment Group (MRAG) for the UK government, the Somalian economy loses an estimated $94 million a year due to illegal fishing. The report quotes estimates of around 700 vessels fishing illegally there. In April 2009, Abdirahman Ibbi, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources in the new Somali National Unity Government told IRIN, an United Nations news agency, that an estimated 220 foreign-owned vessels were engaged in unlicensed and illegal fishing in Somali waters, most of them  of European origin.

Italian and French tuna purse seiners fished in the Somalian 200 miles zone in the past and Spanish tuna purse seiners fished there until 2006, without an official EU bilateral fisheries agreement between the European Union and Somalia. Before 2006, Spanish vessels were claiming they were paying Somalian ”officials“ under private agreements for the tuna that is fished for the European Union market. Recently two Greek owned fishing vessels have been reported to fish illegally in Somalian waters, running flags of convenience of Panama and Cambodia.