Puntland Maritime Police Force have taken an illegal fishing vessel apprehended on the nation’s waters into custody.
According to a report by Horseed Media, which quotes the Deputy Mayor of the Alula District, Ali Salah, the unidentified vessel, seized on Monday, had Yemeni national fishermen on board.
“Our marine forces conducted an Operation in which they managed to seize this illegal fishing boat. It got a trawl which can deplete all the fish in the whole area just in few hours,” he told the press.
Reports further indicate two Somali guards were also apprehended on the vessel. Mr. Salah has noted that all the suspects in custody will be tried.
Illegal fishing by foreign vessels has been a cause of concern for Somali nationals since the country’s federal government collapsed in 1991.
Reports indicate that large foreign trawlers make their way to Somali waters to fish in commercial quantities and also dump industrial waste.
The activities of these foreign trawlers have been linked with the rise of piracy off the Somali coast – which is reportedly one of the longest in Africa.
Local reports indicate that pirates have justified their actions with the fact that foreign trawlers have made fishing unprofitable by destroying the nation’s waters.
Local fishermen say due to the deplorable state of the nation’s marine environment, they have to venture farther into sea to make increase their chances of success.
Fishermen have also alleged attacks by foreign vessels and the destruction of their nets by trawlers.
Puntland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Abdinur Elmi Bindhe, has voiced his ministry’s resolve to take action against illegal fishing by levying heavy penalties on suspects.
Meanwhile, Somali authorities have called on foreign navies to join the fight against illegal fishing on the country’s coast.
Last month, Somali officials revealed that the government is planning to acquire warships to equip its navy force dispatch their duties more effectively.
Although the presence of the European Union Naval Force Somalia (EUNAVFOR) as well as the presence of many other naval authorities have drastically reduced maritime crime off the Somali coast, isolated incidents have been reported frequently.
Puntland, which is estimated to have a third of Somalia’s total population, declared itself semi-autonomous in 1998, following a prolonged war in Somalia.