Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Real Pirates ?

Caught red handed as he prepared to launch attacks into the Gulf of Aden from the port of Berbera Farrah Ismail is devoid of the usual need for evasion. His account of how and why he came to the northern breakaway state is startlingly direct.

"I came here to kidnap commercial ships from the waters off Berbera."

Somalia boasts some of the richest fishing grounds in the world, a fact that was not lost on foreign predators in the wake of the collapse of central government in 1991. Somali fishermen were already selling to the Gulf States and to Italian companies and the marine bounty was known. Fishing vessels started to appear from nearby Kenya and Egypt but also from as far afield as China.
“The first point that compelled us to be sea pirates was the fishermen. These boats that came, trawlers came and destroyed everything even the small fish from our area.”
Ismail lost his shark nets in clashes with trawlers, others lost boats or lives.
The operations of the foreign ships were felt in three ways according to Ismail: “Big fishing trawlers entered our waters, destroyed our facilites, collided with our boats and even killed people. Some dumped toxic waste in our waters.”

“Why don't you give consideration about the destruction they did to us?”

“We need people to listen to us, to create employment for these fishing communities. To bring facilities that is the way we can stop these problems.”

Wikipedia confirms his claims about the cause of the piracy "there was no coast guard to protect against trawlers from other countries illegally fishing in Somali waters. This led to the erosion of the fish stock. Local fishermen started to band together to protect the resource. Soon they discovered that piracy was an easier way to make money. illegal trawlers began fishing Somalia's seas with an estimated $300 million of tuna, shrimp, and lobster being taken each year depleting stocks previously available to local fishermen. Through interception with speedboats, Somali fishermen tried to either dissuade the dumpers and trawlers or levy a "tax" on them as compensation. In an interview, Sugule Ali, one of the pirate leaders explained "We don't consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits to be those who illegally fish and dump in our seas."

According to Nick Nuttall of the United Nations Environmental Programme, "Somalia has been used as a dumping ground for hazardous waste starting in the early 1990s, and continuing through the civil war there," and "European companies found it to be very cheap to get rid of the waste, costing as little as $2.50 a tonne, where waste disposal costs in Europe are something like $1000 a tonne." "

1 comment:

Chris Hall said...

Some good information. As always with the media the real truth lies buried behind the stereotypes.