Writing on behalf of the Somali Fisheries Workers Union (SOFWU), an affiliate of SOCOTU, we would like to express our concerns regarding the potential consequences arising from the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the Somali government and a Chinese fishing company in 2018 and 2023. This matter has raised significant apprehensions within the Somali Fisheries Worker Union (SOFWU) and the Somali Congress of Trade Unions (SOCOTU).
SOFWU President Hassan Mohamed Roble has issued a statement highlighting our deep apprehension regarding the MOU’s implications for Somalia’s fishing industry and the well-being of local fishermen. The primary concern lies in the fishing license granted to the Chinese company by the Somali government as part of the MOU.
Key concerns are as follows:
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.
Overfishing: Chinese fishing fleets have been accused of overfishing in Somali waters, often targeting valuable species such as tuna and sharks. This activity poses a threat to marine biodiversity and reduces resources available to Somali fishermen.
Environmental Impact: Destructive fishing methods like bottom trawling used by some Chinese vessels can result in serious environmental consequences. Delicate marine habitats can be damaged, and the marine food chain disrupted.
Economic Impact: 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.
Security Concerns: The presence of Chinese fishing vessels near the Somali coast raises security concerns, with some of these vessels being associated with piracy incidents. This complicates the security situation in the region.
Socioeconomic Impact: Local communities heavily reliant on fishing for their livelihoods are significantly affected. Depleted fish stocks and increased competition contribute to poverty and food insecurity.
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. 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.