Sunday, 30 January 2011

The Horn of Africa – Somalia Spring 2009 Chronicles IV – Viewpoints on Piracy, War, and China’s RoleThe Horn of Africa – Somalia Spring 2009 Chronicles IV – Viewpoints on Piracy, War, and China’s Role

The Horn of Africa – Somalia Spring 2009 Chronicles IV – Viewpoints on Piracy, War, and China’s Role

Ecoterra Intl. – SMCM (Somali Marine & Coastal Monitor) – Issue No. 186
The Horn of Africa – Somalia Spring 2009 Chronicles IV – Viewpoints on Piracy, War, and China’s Role
In this article, I publish excerpts from the no 186 Ecoterra Press Release SMCM (Somali Marine & Coastal Monitor).

Ecoterra Intl. – SMCM (Somali Marine & Coastal Monitor) – 2009-06-06 THU 11H04:15 UTC

Issue No. 186

Ecoterra International – Updates & Statements, Review & Clearing-house

A Voice from the Truth- & Justice-Seekers, who sit between all chairs, because they are not part of organized white-collar or no-collar-crime in Somalia or overseas, and who neither benefit from global naval militarization, from the illegal fishing and dumping in Somali waters or the piracy of merchant vessels, nor from the booming insurance business or the exorbitant ransom-, risk-management- or security industry, while neither the protection of the sea, the development of fishing communities nor the humanitarian assistance to abducted seafarers and their families is receiving the required adequate attention, care and funding.

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act". George Orwell

EA Illegal Fishing and Dumping Hotline: +254-714-747090 (confidentiality guaranteed) - email:

EA Seafarers Assistance Programme Emergency Helpline: SMS to +254-738-497979 or call +254-733-633-733

"The pirates must not be allowed to destroy our dream!"

Capt. Florent Lemaçon - F/Y TANIT - killed by attack of French commandos - 10. April 2009

Non A La Guerre - Yes To Peace

(Inscription on the sail of F/Y TANIT shot down on day one of the French assault)



Rumours and so far unconfirmed reports say that Hassan Dahir Aweys, the leader of the Somali insurgents, has been wounded, while Hassan Turki, a leader of the al-Shabaab would have been killed in intense fighting near Wabho in central Somalia, which saw 120 fighters dead. Other sources speak of false propaganda, while a spokesman of Hizbul Islam from Addis Ababa confirmed that Hassan Dahir Aweys had been slightly wounded. Sources from the TFG speak of a serious wounding of Hassan Dahir Aweys at his back, while he himself talks only of a few scratches. Hassan Turki, however, who had escaped even air-strikes by the US earlier, is reported to not even have been in the area where the fighting erupted yesterday, while Shabaab leader Gudanne was reportedly killed.

T/B YENEGOA OCEAN (registered as YENEGOA, but also called YENAGOA) with 11 Nigerian sailors has finally been freed after an ordeal of over 10 month. The Panama -flagged vessel with some clandestine cargo and two Mercedes-Benz as well as one BMW luxury vehicles on board was kept at the very tip of the Horn of Africa while negotiations with the Nigerian owner regularly broke down. The off-shore tug - owned by Nigerian ESL Integrated Services, and her crew were captured in the Gulf of Aden on 4th August 2008. After initial attempts by the owner to achieve the release through Yemen, he walked away for long stretches of time and claimed to not have the money for the release. After the intervention of an international humanitarian organization, which over the months several times helped with supplies, the Nigerian government stepped in and achieved that the owner at least sent $80.000.- for supplies to the crew's upkeep.

The case was overshadowed also by typical "Nigerian-scams" of people soliciting funds for the release of individual crew members, whereby moneys reached in only one case the captors, but was then embezzled by the commander of the pirates and never achieved any release of any sailor. Finally the families, the brother of the captain, an US based Somali Organization - Somali Justice Advocacy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota - and friends helped in the last stages. Only the final straight dealings with the sea-shifta and a money transfer through the Islamic Hawala system achieved the freedom of crew and vessel against a comparatively very small ransom. The vessel had run also out of fuel, which made it necessary to get assistance for her sailing to freedom. The Netherlands and France are said to have helped. According to a Dutch navy statement, the tugboat is being escorted by a Dutch frigate to safe waters, reported AFP. This ends one of the longest pending sea-jacking cases in Somalia. "My brother is now on the sea close to Yemen," Egbide, the captain's brother, said. "He called my older sister in Chicago so we know he’s been released." The pirates holding the Yenagoa were members of the Siwaqron clan of Puntland, who kept the ship in Habo (Xabo) one of the most inaccessible places at the Horn of Africa.

News from sea-jackings, abductions, newly attacked ships and vessels in distress

Negotiations for MV POMPEI, a Belgium flagged stone carrier and her crew of 10 sailors (two Belgians, a Dutch, three Filipinos and four Croatians onboard) have been concluded and the release of the dredger with her unharmed crew is expected soon.

With the latest captures and releases now still at least 14 foreign vessels (15 with an unnamed sole Barge which drifted ashore) with a total of not less than 206 crew members accounted for (of which 44 are confirmed to be Filipinos) are held in Somali waters and are monitored on our actual case-list, while several other cases of ships, which were observed off the coast of Somalia and have been reported or had reportedly disappeared without trace or information, are still being followed. Over 134 incidences (including attempted attacks, averted attacks and successful sea-jackings) have been recorded for 2008 with 49 fully documented, factual sea-jacking cases (for Somalia, incl. presently held ones) and the mistaken sinking of one vessel by a naval force. For 2009 the account stands at 126 attacks (incl. averted or abandoned attacks) with 44 sea-jackings on the Somali/Yemeni pirate side as well as at least three wrongful attacks (incl. one friendly fire incident) on the side of the naval forces.

Mystery pirate mother-vessels Athena/Arena and Burum Ocean as well as not fully documented cases of absconded vessels are not listed in the sea-jack count until clarification. Several other vessels with unclear fate (also not in the actual count), who were reported missing over the last ten years in this area, are still kept on our watch-list, though in some cases it is presumed that they sunk due to bad weather or being unfit to sail. In the last four years, 22 missing ships have been traced back with different names, flags and superstructures. Piracy incidents usually degrade during the monsoon season in winter and rise gradually by the end of the monsoon season starting from mid February and early April every year. Present multi-factorial risk assessment code: Yellow (Red = Very much likely, high season; Orange = Reduced risk, but very likely, Yellow = significantly reduced risk, but still likely, Blue = possible, Green = unlikely). Allegedly still/again three groups from Puntland alone are out hunting on the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, and also groups from Harardheere have set out again, despite the heavy seas.

Directly piracy related reports

Where the Shipping News Is All Bad
By Alan Feuer

"Pirates"? the old salt snorted. "Pirates won’t kill the shipping business. Pirates are a joke".

He sipped his coffee bitterly and glanced without compassion at his fellow ancient mariners.

"You want to know what killed the shipping business, I’ll tell you what killed the shipping business. Capitalists", he said.

The buccaneers of the Somali coast were making headlines from Mogadishu to the Mosholu Parkway, but at the Seafarers’ Club, a haunt for aging sailors near the South Street Seaport, it was understood that the demise of merchant shipping had little to do with African gangs in speedboats.

"It was Reagan", the old salt, Eric Traverse, finally sputtered. "Ronald Reagan did it. He put the death blow to this industry. He’s the culprit here".

Ever since the Great Depression, the United States government has exercised control of the nation’s commercial shippers in exchange for what are known as Title XI loan guarantees. These billion-dollar subsidies helped the fleet survive competition from interstate trucking and civilian aviation. But when President Reagan took office, they were cut severely, dwindling down to almost nothing by 1983.

Though restored in later budgets, the cuts still sting at the Seafarers’ Club, an otherwise friendly hangout at the Seamen’s Church Institute where, on alternating Tuesdays, men like Mr. Traverse gather to discuss the death of shipping and their port calls of the past. Mr. Traverse, who has been to 50 countries, mostly shipped on break-bulk (noncontainer) vessels as an able-bodied seaman in his day. But American shippers slowly moved abroad where things were cheaper, and every line he worked on went bankrupt in the end.

You hear the names repeated like a death list: The Farrell Lines. The United States Lines. Prudential-Grace. There is a billiards table in the corner, but no one seems to have the shoulder strength to use it. The old copies of Professional Mariner stacked up near the corkboard apparently go unread.

A recent copy of the Ambrose Light newsletter brought unwelcome notice of the death of George Searle, former president of a merchant marine association, who, in the autumn of his life, one learns, purchased the Mary Murray, a decommissioned Staten Island ferry he kept on the banks of the Raritan River for more than 20 years. In a photograph accompanying his obituary, Mr. Searle looks gopher-cheeked and pallid, not unlike the other old men who are scattered about the room.

One of them is Gabriel Frank, a tattooed seaman in a cowboy shirt, who, at 80 years old, will demand that you feel his muscles, then rattle off, in a single breath, every port in Africa from Abidjan to Walvis Bay. Had he actually been to Tripoli, Lobito, Lagos, Beira and Port Sudan, as he had boasted? "Sailors only lie to pretty women", he said.

But piracy, of course, was the dominant topic, with Mr. Traverse quietly suggesting that the brigands in Nigeria were actually much worse than in Somalia, as they were in cahoots with the police. Despite accepted wisdom, there has always been a secret connection between the pirate and the sailor: One attacked the system from the outside; the other suffered it from within. In fact, it is said that the term "labor strike" derives from the practice of striking (lowering) a ship’s sails as a symbol of refusal to go to sea.

As for the recent surge in worry over pirates, it was patently ridiculous, since global capital had already robbed what little was left to steal.

"Look around this room", he said. "There’s nothing left. Seamen are passé. It’s the end of an era. The industry is dead".

Marine ecosystem, IUU fishing and dumping, ecology

8th of June is World Ocean Day!

2009 Theme: "one ocean, one climate, one future"

About the theme: We live on a blue planet, dominated by the ocean which covers 70% of its surface. The world’s ocean and climate are inextricably linked: the ocean plays a crucial role in maintaining the Earth's climate, and ocean life is vulnerable to climate change. Likewise, in our interconnected world, the ocean affects us and we affect the ocean. A healthy ocean helps to absorb excess carbon dioxide, provides jobs and food to people the world over, and regulates climate and temperature.

Meanwhile Japan has caught $6 billion worth of illegal Southern Bluefin tuna over the past 20 years, reports the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Over-fishing in 2009, by Charles Clover

Over-fishing was recognized as one of the world's greatest and most immediate environmental problems in 2002, when it was first demonstrated that global catches of wild fish had peaked around 1989 and have since been in decline.

Globally, some 75 per cent of wild marine fish are now said to be either fully-exploited or over-fished, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO). That means these species require conservation and management in order to survive in their present numbers - which they rarely receive.

The number of fish stocks recorded as fully or over-fished worldwide is expected to increase significantly this year when the latest figures are published by the UN FAO.

The fish species in the worst shape are highly migratory oceanic sharks; fish that are exploited fully or partially on the high seas, such as the larger tunas; and shared stocks, such as the Patagonian toothfish or Chilean sea bass.

Aquaculture, or fish farming, now provides almost half of all the fish consumed by humans. In the West – but not in Asia - it is mostly carnivorous fish that are farmed. The growth of aquaculture has slowed as stocks of small fish used to feed larger fish are themselves over-fished.

The North East Atlantic, which includes EU waters, is one of the worst areas in the world for over-fishing – along with the western Indian Ocean and the North West Pacific, according to the UN FAO.

In European waters, some 80 per cent of stocks are recorded as over-fished, according to the European Commission.

In UK waters, stocks of palatable fish, such as cod, have been reduced to less than 10 per cent of what they were 100 years ago. This compares with a global average of 25 per cent of stocks actively over-fished.

The nation with the least over-fishing problem is New Zealand [interestingly also the most free country in the world], where only 15 percent of stocks are recorded as over-fished. The problem is that in Europe some 50 per cent of the quotas set by politicians are higher than scientists say are sustainable.

The EU was instrumental in arguing for a quota of 22,000 tons of valuable bluefin tuna for next year at a meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas in Marrakech in November, even though scientists recommended a quota of only 15,000 tons to avert stock collapse.

The United States had called for a total ban on catching bluefin in the Mediterranean to allow stocks to recover from rampant over-fishing, both illegal and legal.

The bleak future predicted for the sea by some scientists already exists in British waters, where in places over-fishing has resulted in a simplified ecosystem vulnerable to total collapse.

In the Firth of Clyde, near Glasgow, the cod, haddock, saithe, brill and whiting have all been over-fished. All there remains for fishermen to catch is Norway lobster, also known as langoustine or scampi. In the absence of cod, which eat diseased Norway lobsters, some 70 per cent of Norway lobsters are now afflicted by the parasite-borne ailment known as smoking crab disease and the prospects for the Clyde fishermen are not good.

Seven tenths of Earth is covered by water and the oceans belong to all of us.

Every individual on Earth has a right to assume that the oceans are managed for the benefit of all those alive, their children and grandchildren - not on behalf of vested interests. If the biological diversity of the oceans is to be maintained or restored, large areas must be protected altogether from the commercial fishing industry and responsible fishing must prevail outside those areas.

Every person on the planet can claim 2 hectares of ocean - that's what you get if you divide the surface area of ocean by the number of people on Earth. If the biological diversity of the oceans is to be maintained or restored, large areas must be protected altogether from the commercial fishing industry and responsible fishing must prevail outside those areas.

Sound the global fisheries alarm.

Scientists predict that if we continue fishing at the current rate, the planet will run out of seafood by 2048 with catastrophic consequences. Based on the book by Charles Clover, The End of the Line explores the devastating effect that over-fishing is having on fish stocks and the health of our oceans. With Clover as his guide, Sundance veteran Rupert Murray (Unknown White Male) crisscrosses the globe, examining what is causing the dilemma and what can be done to solve it.

Industrial fishing began in the 1950s. High-tech fisheries now trawl the oceans with nets the size of football fields. Species cannot survive at the rate they are being removed from the sea. Add in cofactors of decades of bad science, corporate greed, small-minded governments, and escalating consumer demand, and we’re left with a crisis of epic proportions. Ninety percent of the big fish in our oceans are now gone. Murray interweaves glorious footage from both underwater and above with shocking scientific testimony to paint a vivid and alarming profile of the state of the sea. The ultimate power of The End of the Line is that it moves beyond doomsday rhetoric to proffer real solutions. Chillingly topical, The End of the Line drives home the message: the clock is ticking, and the time to act is now.

Charles Clover, the book's author, said: "We must stop thinking of our oceans as a food factory and realize that they thrive as a huge and complex marine environment. We must act now to protect the sea from rampant over-fishing so that there will be fish in the sea for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren".

"Over-fishing is the great environmental disaster that people haven't heard about", said producer George Duffield.

"A recent global conference about bluefin tuna stocks saw almost no media coverage in the U.S. We hope this film really sounds the alarm. We can fix this problem starting right now".

"Reading the book The End of the Line changed my life and what I eat. I hope the film will do the same for others", said producer Claire Lewis.

Film warns of 'world without fish'
By Jeremy Cooke