At least eight fishermen are still missing from two fishing vessels which were attacked last week, according to the fishermen in Mogadishu’s coastline of Lido. Colleagues in Barawe called the fishermen in Mogadishu and were told that they have found the two boats empty.
Somalia Report speak to Mogadishu fishermen who are shocked by having their fishing vessels being targeted during fishing trips. A fisherman, Saad Madey, told Somalia Report about the consequence of attacks and what the fishers are now planning to do, “Our jobs are in jeopardy recently. There were similar attacks in the past which started once the piracy activities emerged in our oceans, but the degree of danger is now much higher. The situation in the waters of Indian oceans is now appalling. We are still waiting to hear from eight of our friends who have been missing in the ocean for five days now. We don’t know what happen to them, they were on two small fishing boats but we found the boats alone off the shores in Barawe.“
Saad told Somalia Report that he is concerned about whether there is a future for fishermen in Somalia at all, as a result of the obstacles against the fishing which supports the lives of thousands of Somali fishermen. “We cannot afford to stop fishing because of this kind of aggression, but we are keeping our fingers crossed to see what happens in every next minute. Always vigilant, stay connected and even make sure for the decision to go the sea very carefully. Some boats already went for fishing today, some others are planning to do so, but most of the fishers are not working today, and have not been during the past three days,“ Saad Madey said.
Ali Mohamed, another fisherman who was waiting to begin a fishing expedition with a group of young fishermen near Mogadishu’s old port, told Somalia Report the fishermen here are upset over what is happening in the sea, they are calling their families to inform that they are going to fishing. “I’m going today to fish with these group, we are aware of the danger but we usually go anyway. I myself have survived an attack before. It was an overnight trip, the ocean was very calm and we were fishing in waters far from shore. We saw what we assumed was a warship shining a strong light on us, my friends told me that we will be destroyed if we did not take action to save our lives. We started to head away, unfortunately the ship fired deliberate gunshots at us, but fortunately we were not seriously harmed, although one of our friend sustained a slight injury from the gunshots,“ said Ali.
AMISOM has recently started maritime operations near the port of Mogadishu to escort merchant ships and other cargo ships carrying humanitarian shipments such as the World Food Program (WFP), but this does not provide any protection to the fishers who are often traveling from nearby Mogadishu’s coastline. Fishermen complaints are directed at the warships that patrol day and night in the far waters. The problem is seem as a matter of misunderstanding between the Somali fishermen and the international maritime forces conducting a range of anti-piracy operations.
Somali analyst Mowlid Hirsi in Djibouti talked with Somalia Report on the issue, “I think the fishermen still need help both from the government and also NATO. This is a clear proof of how much misapprehension they are running into. Clearly, the maritime forces are not able to identify quickly whether the boats belong to fishermen or pirates, that is the problem really need first to be solved. I hope a solution can be found by the government ministry for fishing, or another proper offices.“
Mohamed Ahmed Nur, the mayor of Banadir, reacted towards the troubles of fishermen by saying, “The government is establishing methods to save the lives of the Somali fishers, as our ministries and other agencies working in the ocean are already involved in finding a better strategy for forwarding the interests of fishermen, but there is a need of better training for fishermen. We are working on ideas to illuminate fishing vessels, but this efford I don’t think belongs government only, it is also necessary to involve efforts by the international agencies such as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and other sectors to help assist fishing strategy in Somalia.“
The price of fish in Mogadishu’s fish markets has climbed recently due to the danger which the fishermen face.
Fishing is one of the major sources of incomes, and one of Somalia’s richest natural resources, and provides income to thousands of fishers inside Somalia. Several hundred fishing vessels enter the Indian Ocean every day from Mogadishu, Marka, Kismayu, and Barawe.