GOOBJOOG NEWS | MOGADISHU: The Somali Congress of Trade Unions (SOCOTU) and the Somali Fisheries Workers Union (SOFWU) have raised concerns over the Memorandum of Association (MOU) signed between the Somali government and a Chinese fishing company in 2018 and 2023.
In a statement, SOFWU president Hassan Mohamed Roble noted that the MOU has negative implications on Somalia’s fishing industry and the general wellbeing of local fishermen.
He noted that the fishing license granted to the Chinese company by the Somali government as part of the MOU will pave way for Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.
“The presence of Chinese fishing vessels engaging in IUU fishing near the Somali coast is a major concern. This practice negatively impacts fish stocks, harms the marine ecosystem, and threatens the livelihoods of local fishermen,” Roble observed in his statement.
He further noted that the deal will lead to over fishing saying Chinese fishing fleets have been accused of overfishing in Somali waters, often targeting valuable species such as tuna and sharks hence reduces resources available to Somali fishermen.
Roble also said the deal poses a negative environmental impact as destructive fishing methods like bottom trawling used by some Chinese vessels can damage delicate marine habits which can disrupt the marine food chain.
Observing that the deal also poses a negative economic impact, Roble noted, “The already struggling Somali fishing industry faces additional challenges due to the presence of Chinese fishing fleets. Instances of intimidation by these vessels make it difficult for local fishermen to compete with large-scale Chinese operations.”
The union president at the same time warned that the presence of Chinese fishing vessels near the Somali coast raises security concerns saying some of these vessels have been associated with piracy incidents hence complicates the security situation in the region.
“Local communities heavily reliant on fishing for their livelihoods are significantly affected. Depleted fish stocks and increased competition contribute to poverty and food insecurity,” he added.
Roble opined that some of the efforts to address these issues include; involving local fishers in decision-making processes, intensifying monitoring and surveillance of fishing activities within Somali waters, negotiating fishing agreements to promote sustainable practices, and fostering international collaboration to combat IUU fishing.
“As the Somali Fisheries Workers Union (SOFWU), we foresee potentially severe, long-term consequences for Somalia’s fisheries and marine ecosystem unless these concerns are adequately addressed,” he stated in his statement.
Adding, “Effective solutions necessitate a coordinated approach involving not only Somalia but also the global community. This approach aims to champion sustainable fishing practices, safeguard the marine environment, and support the livelihoods of local fishermen.