Saturday, 29 January 2011

Shipping and Fishing Piracy – Mohamed Waldo’s Analysis, and Ecoterra Press Release

Shipping and Fishing Piracy – Mohamed Abshir Waldo’s Analysis, and Ecoterra Press Release

Shipping and Fishing Piracy – Mohamed Abshir Waldo’s Analysis, and Ecoterra Press Release
Focalizing on the Somali piracy, the world in its entirety has been misled and confused in many ways and aspects; shipping piracy represents indeed only one type of piracy. Fishing piracy is an equally pre-occupying matter, particularly in a country like Somalia that has been deliberately deprived of central government because of the American establishment’s commitment to the colonial English directives.

The 99th Press Release Update of the leading environmental NGO Ecoterra includes as must read an excellent analysis by Mohamed Abshir Waldo, Journalist/Consultant, under the title "The Two Piracies in Somalia: Why the World Ignores the Other?" that I integrally republish herewith.

99th Update 2009-01-06 22h43:40 UTC

Ecoterra Intl. - Stay Calm & Solve it Peaceful & Fast !

Ecoterra International – Update & Media Release on the stand-off concerning the Ukrainian weapons-ship hi-jacked by Somali pirates and related news.

We also can make sea-piracy in Somalia an issue of the past - with empathy and strength and through coastal and marine development as well as protection!

New EA Seafarers Assistance Programme Emergency Helpline: +254-738-497979
East African Seafarers Assistance Programme - Media Officer: +254-733-385868

Day 104 - 2480 hours into the MV FAINA Crisis - Update Summary

Efforts for a peaceful release continued, but the now over three and a half months long stand-off concerning Ukrainian MV FAINA is not yet solved finally, though intensive negotiations have continued.

Tonight is the Holy Evening of the Orthodox Christmas and our thoughts are with the Seafarers on MV FAINA, who needlessly have to suffer at the hands of vicious and stubborn Somali captors holding the weapons-transport and due to mostly selfish interference of sideline interests from Somalis as well as non-Somalis alike - all obviously depending on the not forthcoming mercy of rogue businessmen with their own profit-margins and under the influence of political interests from numerous sides in Africa, Europe and the US. The case has become a classical one for its complexity, confusion, carelessness and the reluctance to solve it straight and with the prior interest of the life and well-being of the hostages at heart. All secondary issues seem to have a higher priority than the crew of 2 Russian and 17 Ukrainian seamen on board.

This is why the men of MV FAINA are not at home with their families tonight. This is why the captives as well as their warders on the vessel have hardly any food tonight. This is why the official negotiators are turning in circles. This is why most independent media have given up to ask questions and why the stringed-up media are mum or play their role only for specific and targeted propaganda. Observers and analysts close to this case state overwhelmingly that those Somalis and non-Somalis, who are willing and could help to solve the riddles and obstacles hindering a mutual agreement from being implemented, are regularly misused, scare-mongered or frustrated by the official mandate holders, who are in it for personal gains or for being merely ordered by those who have a duty - on the Somali as well as on the Ukrainian and Russian sides alike. It's a sad evening for the crew and their families and we only can hope that they can stay strong and that the sick game still can be ended in a peaceful way. Humanity is non-existent tonight in the case of MV FAINA and maybe only survives a little in some friendly interactions of crew and captors on the vessel, who suffer both under the situation, because they are both hostages of their real stake-holders. Enough is enough and this case is rife for an international tribunal.

Ecoterra Intl. repeats it's call to solve the FAINA and the SIRIUS STAR cases with first priority and peaceful in order to avert a human and environmental disasters at the Somali coast. Anybody encouraging hot-headed and concerning such difficult situations inexperienced and untrained gunmen or those, who believe they would be capable to try an attempt of a military solution, must be held fully responsible for the surely resulting disaster. The saga and secrecy surrounding MV FAINA must not - like in the MS ESTONIA case, which is the worst naval disaster in Europe since WWII - become the shroud for its 20 seafarers.


News from other abducted or newly attacked ships --------

Games Crazy People Play: Kidnapping, Pirating, and War - Naval War-games to protect Fish-piracy and to cover the real agenda !

Strong winds, rough seas and dangerous swells made it since two days difficult for the small skiffs to launch attacks.

An attack reported on Monday actually was launched against a Sierra Leone cargo ship with 32 Chinese on-board. It threw off the pursuit of four pirate boats in the Gulf of Aden on Monday, the China Maritime Search and Rescue Centre said on Monday. The ship was carrying more than 10,000 tons of silicate and oil equipment from Singapore to the Republic of Djibouti in north-eastern Africa when it met with the pirates, the centre said in a statement. Four pirate boats chased the vessel on the eastern water area of the gulf at 3:50 p.m. on Monday, with their speed reaching 19 nautical miles per hour, said the centre. The Ministry of Transport immediately launched an emergency response plan and contacted the International Maritime Bureau to seek aid from nearby warships. The cargo ship was found secure at 4:20 p.m..

Former British Royal Marine Kevin Brewin, 52, lead the team of Alex and Ian Knight, 38, on another APMSS mission, to defend this time the MV S. VENUS vessel. APMSS is managed and owned by Nick Davis who earlier was criticized for his guards having abandoned ship in a pirate attack. According to The Sun newspaper Brewin stated now concerning the S. Venus case: "We made the decision to fight and that is what we did. I suppose looking back it was pretty hairy but at the time you just get stuck in and do your job" and added "Ian had made some Molotov cocktails out of light bulbs by taking out the element, filling it with paint thinner and plugging the top with toilet paper". Despite the vicious onslaught the men hatched an audacious defence – pouring paint thinner straight into a pirate boat – before firing a flare gun into it - the Sun report revealed - thereby clarifying that (like in the case of the Netherlands-Antilles-flagged MV SEA PRINCESS II) the skiff of the pirates was set ablaze with chemicals and flares. An easy job then to arrest the Somalis by the assisting naval unit. However, by such action again the path of escalation is chosen over a strategy to de-escalate, to prevent and to deter. It will not be long until the first thinner-pouring "hero" just will be popped off the deck. Is it really necessary to condition the Somali pirate-boys and to gear them into a higher level of aggression - whose agenda does that serve?

With the latest captures and releases now at least 18 foreign vessels with a total of at least 368 crew members (of which 92 are 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 (incl. the presently held). For 2009 the account stands at 11 abandoned attacks and 2 sea-jackings. 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.

Must read

The Two Piracies in Somalia: Why the World Ignores the Other?

By Mohamed Abshir Waldo, Journalist/Consultant

Much of the world’s attention is currently focused on the Somali sea lanes. The navies of big and small powers are converging on the Somali waters in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean. The recent hijacking of the Saudi oil tanker and Ukrainian MV FAINA, laden with arms for Kenya, off the coast of Somalia by Somali pirates captured world media attention. War has been rightly declared against this notorious new shipping piracy. But the older and mother of all piracies in Somalia - illegal foreign fishing piracy - in the Somali seas is ignored, underlining the international community’s misunderstanding and partiality of the underlying interdependent issues involved and the impracticality of the proposed actions to find ways to effectively resolve the piracy threat.

A chorus of calls for tougher international action resulted in multi-national and unilateral Naval stampede to invade and take control of the Somali territorial and EEZ waters. The UN Security Council, a number of whose members may have ulterior motives to indirectly protect their illegal fishing fleets in the Somali Seas, passed Resolutions 1816 and 1838, giving a license to any nation who wants a piece of the Somali marine cake. Both NATO and the EU issued Orders to the same effect and Russia, Japan, India, Malaysia, Egypt, Yemen and anyone else who could afford an armed boat and its crew on the sea for a few months joined the fray.

For years, attempts made to address piracy in the world’s seas through UN resolutions have failed to pass largely because many of the member nations felt such resolutions would infringe greatly on their sovereignty and security and have been unwilling to give up control and patrol of their own waters. UN Resolutions 1816 and 1838, which were objected to by a number of West African, Caribbean and South American nations, was then tailored to apply to Somalia only, which had no strong enough Somali representation at the United Nations to demand amendments to protect its sovereignty. Also Somali civil society objections to the Draft Resolutions were ignored.

This massive "Global Armada" invasion is carried out on the pretext to protect the busy shipping trade routes of the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean from Somali shipping piracy, which threatens to disrupt these international lifeline sea ways. While there are two equally nasty, criminal, inhuman and exploiting gangs of pirates in Somalia, only one of them is publicized by the western media: the Somali shipping pirates attacking merchant shipping in these sea lanes, where the illegal poachers are also actively operating.

The Illegal Fishing Piracy

The other more damaging economically, environmentally and security-wise is the massive illegal foreign fishing piracy that have been poaching and destroying the Somali marine resources for the last 18 years following the collapse of the Somali regime in 1991. With its usual double standards when such matters concern Africa, the "international community" comes out in force to condemn and declare war against the Somali fishermen pirates while discreetly protecting the numerous Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing fleets there from Europe, Arabia and the Far East.

Biased UN resolutions, big power orders and news reports continue to condemn the hijackings of merchant ships by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. If response to both piracy menaces was balanced and fair, these condemnations would have been justified. European Union (EU), Russia, Japan, India, Egypt and Yemen are all on this piracy campaign, mainly to cover up and protect their illegal fishing fleets in the Somali waters.

In all these piracy ballyhoo and campaigns, why is the other key IUUs fishing piracy ignored? Why are the UN Resolutions, NATO Orders and EU Decrees to invade the Somali seas fail to include the protection of the Somali marine resources from IUU violations in the same waters? Not only is this outrageous fishing piracy disregarded but the illegal foreign marine poachers are being encouraged to continue their loot by as none of the current Resolutions, Orders and Decrees apply to the IUUs, which can now freely fish in and violate the Somali seas. The Somali fishermen can no longer scare away the IUUs for fear of being labeled pirates and attacked by the foreign navies unlawfully controlling the Somali waters. Even the traditional Somali trading dhows are in panic of being mistaken for pirates.

a) The IUU Menace and Fish Laundering Practice

There is no doubt IUU is a serious global problem. According to the High Seas Task Force (HSTF), IUU does not respect national boundaries or sovereignty, puts unsustainable pressure on stocks, marine life and habitats, undermines labor standards and distorts markets. "IUU fishing is detrimental to the wider marine ecosystem because it flouts rules designed to protect the marine environment which includes restrictions to harvest Juveniles, closed spawning grounds and gear modification designed to minimize by-catch on non-target species….In so doing they steal an invaluable protein source from some of the world’s poorest people and ruin the livelihoods of some legitimate fishermen; incursions by trawlers into the inshore areas reserved for artisanal fishing can result in collision with local fishing boats, destruction of fishing gear and deaths of fishermen" says HSTF. In its report, Closing the Net: Stopping Illegal Fishing on the High Seas, HSTF puts worldwide value of IUU catches at $4 to $9 billion, large part of it from Sub-Sahara Africa, particularly Somalia.

IUUs practice fish catch laundering through mother ship factories, transshipment and re-supply at sea. "This means that vessels can remain at sea for months, refueling, re-supplying and rotating their crew. IUU fishing vessels never need to enter ports because they transfer their catches onto transport ships. Illegally caught fish are laundered by mixing with legally caught fish on board transport vessels", writes HSTF. Apparently, fish laundering, which generates hundreds of millions dollars in the black market is not as criminal as money laundering! Countries used for Somali fish laundering include Seychelles, Mauritius and Maldives.

As EU closed much of its fishing waters for 5 to 15 years for fish regeneration, as Asia over fished its seas, as international demand increases for nutritious marine products and as the fear of worldwide food shortage grows, the rich, uncontrolled and unprotected Somali seas became the target of the fishing fleets of many nations. Surveys by UN, Russian and Spanish assessors just before the collapse of the Barre Regime in 1991 estimated that 200,000 tones of fish a year could be caught by both artisanal and industrial fisheries and this is the objective of the international fishing racket

There is no doubt that the actions of the shipping pirates are reprehensible and this paper does not seek to justify or explain their odious actions. They must be stopped. But the notorious shipping piracy is unlikely to be resolved without simultaneously attending to the fraudulent IUU piracy, too.

b) The Origin of the Somali Piracy War

The origin of the two piracies goes back to 1992 after the fall of the Gen. Siyad Barre regime and the disintegration of the Somali Navy and Police Coastguard services. Following severe draughts in 1974 and 1986, tens of thousands of nomads, whose livestock were wiped out by the draughts, were re-settled all along the villages on the long, 3300 kms Somali coast. They developed into large fishing communities whose livelihood depended inshore fishing. From the beginnings of the civil war in Somalia (as early as 1991/1992) illegal fishing trawlers started to trespass and fish in Somali waters, including the 12-mile inshore artisanal fishing waters. The poaching vessels encroached on the local fishermen’s grounds, competing for the abundant rock-lobster and high value pelagic fish in the warm, up-swelling 60kms deep shelf along the tip of the Horn of Africa.

The piracy war between local fishermen and IUUs started here. Local fishermen documented cases of trawlers pouring boiling water on the fishermen in canoes, their nets cut or destroyed, smaller boats crushed, killing all the occupants, and other abuses suffered as they tried to protect their national fishing turf. Later, the fishermen armed themselves. In response, many of the foreign fishing vessels armed themselves with more sophisticated weapons and began to overpower the fishermen. It was only a matter of time before the local fishermen reviewed their tactics and modernized their hardware. This cycle of warfare has been going on from 1991 to the present. It is now developing into fully fledged, two-pronged illegal fishing and shipping piracy conflicts.
According to the High Seas Task Force (HSTF), there were over 800 IUUs fishing vessels in Somali waters at one time in 2005 taking advantage of Somalia’s inability to police and control its own waters and fishing grounds. The IUUs, which are estimated take out more than $450 million in fish value out of Somalia annually, neither compensate the local fishermen, pay tax, royalties nor do they respect any conservation and environmental regulations – norms associated with regulated fishing. It is believed that IUUs from the EU alone take out of the country more than five times the value of its aid to Somalia every year.

Illegal foreign fishing trawlers which have being fishing in Somalia since 1991 are mostly owned by EU and Asian fishing companies – Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Russia, Britain, Ukraine, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, India, Yemen, Egypt and many others. Illegal vessels captured on the Somali coast by Somali fishermen during 1991 and 1999 included Taiwanese trawlers Yue Fa No. 3 and Chian Yuein No.232, FV Shuen Kuo No.11; MV Airone, MV De Giosa Giuseppe and MV Antonietta, all 3 Italian vessels registered in Italy; MV Bahari Hindi, Kenyan registered but owned and managed by Marship Co. of Mombasa. A number of Italian registered SHIFCO vessels, Korean and Ukrainian trawlers, Indian, Egyptian and Yemeni boats were also captured by fishermen and ransoms of different sizes paid for their release. Many Spanish seiners, frequent violators of the Somali fishing grounds, managed to evade capture at various times.

According to a report in the Daily Nation of October 14, 2004, even Kenyan registered fishing vessels are known to have participated in the rape of the Somali fishing grounds. In October 2004, Mr. Andrew Mwangura, Kenya Coordinator of the Seafarers Assistance Program (SAP) asked the Kenya Government to help stop illegal fishing in Somalia. "Since Somalia has been without government for more than 11 years, Kenya trawlers have been illegally fishing along the country’s territorial waters contrary to the UNCLOS and the FAO instruments, he said. SAP further reported that 19 Kenyan registered fishing vessels also operated illegally in the Somalia waters.

In arrangements with Somali warlords, new companies were formed abroad for bogus fishing licensing purposes. Jointly owned mafia Somali-European companies set up in Europe and Arabia worked closely with Somali warlords who issued them fake fishing "licenses" to any foreign fishing pirate willing to plunder the Somali marine resources. UK and Italy based African and Middle East Trading Co. (AFMET), PALMERA and UAE based SAMICO companies were some of the corrupt vehicles issuing such counterfeit licenses as well as fronting for the warlords who shared the loot.

Among technical advisors to the Mafia companies – AFMET, PALMIRA & SAMICO - were supposedly reputable firms like MacAllister Elliot & Partners of the UK. Warlords Gen. Mohamed Farah Aidiid, Gen. Mohamed Hersi Morgan, Osman Atto and Ex-President Ali Mahdi Mohamed officially and in writing gave authority to AFMET to issue fishing "licenses", which local fishermen and marine experts call it simply a "deal between thieves". According to Africa Analysis of November 13, 1998, AFMET alone "licensed" 43 seiners (mostly Spanish, at $30,000 per 4-month season. Spanish Pesca Nova was "licensed" by AFMET while French Cobracaf group got theirs from SAMICO at a much discounted rate of $15,000 per season per vessel.

Not to be outdone, in October 1999 Puntland Administration, gave carte blanche to another Mafia group known as PIDC, registered in Oman to fish, issue licenses and to police the Puntland coast. PIDC in turn contracted Hart Group of the UK and together they pillaged the Somali fishing grounds with vengeance, making over $20 million profit within two years. The deal was to split the profits but PIDC failed to share the spoils with Puntland administration, resulting in revocation of their licenses. Having reneged on their part of the deal, PIDC/Hart quit the country with their handsomely won chips.

Somali Complaints and Appeals on Illegal Fishing & Hazardous Waste Dumping

Another major problem closely connected with the IUUs and illegal fishing is industrial, toxic and nuclear waste dumping in both off-shore and on-shore areas of Somalia. Somali authorities, local fishermen, civil society organizations and international organizations have reported and warned of the dangerous consequences of these criminal actions. In a Press Statement dated 16 Sept 1991, the SSDF, which then administered the Northeastern Regions of Somalia, sternly warned "all unauthorized and illegal foreign fishing vessels in the Somali waters are prohibited, with immediate effect, to undertake any further illegal fishing and to stay clear of the Somali waters". In April 1992, SSDF Chairman, Gen. Mohamed Abshir Musse wrote to the then Italian Foreign Minister, Gianni De Michelis, drawing his attention to the robbery of the Somali marine resources and ecosystem destruction by unlicensed Italian trawlers.

In September 1995, leaders of all the Somali political factions of the day (12 of them) and two major Somali NGO Networks jointly wrote to the UN Secretary General, Dr Boutros Boutros Ghali, with copies to the EU, Arab League, OIC, OAU and to other involved parties, detailing the illegal fishing and hazardous material dumping crises in the Somali sea waters and requesting the UN to set up a body to manage and protect these waterways. They pointed out that since ICAO already manages the Somali airspace, so could IMO or a newly created organization run Somalia’s seas until an effective Somali national government is able to take control of it. Again, from 1998 to 2006, consecutive Ministers of Fisheries of Puntland State of Somalia have repeatedly appealed to the international community: UN, EC, African Union, Arab League and to individual nations, advising the members states of these organizations to help keep poaching vessels and crews from their countries out of the Somali waters. The Ministers also complained of oil spills, toxic and nuclear waste dumping in the Somali coast.

Somali fishermen in various regions of the country also complained to the international community about the illegal foreign fishing, stealing the livelihoods of poor fishermen, waste dumping and other ecological disasters, including the indiscriminate use of all prohibited methods of fishing: drift nets, under water explosives, killing all "endangered species" like sea-turtles, orca, sharks, baby whales, etc. as well as destroying reef, biomass and vital fish habitats in the sea (IRIN of March 9, 2006). Fishermen in Somalia have appealed to the United Nations and the international community to help them rid the country's shores of foreign ships engaged in illegal fishing. United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated 700 foreign-owned vessels were engaged in unlicensed fishing in Somali waters in 2005. However, FAO said it was "impossible to monitor their fishery production in general, let alone the state of the fishery resources they are exploiting….there is also strong suspicion of illegal dumping of industrial and nuclear wastes along the Somali coast", IRIN 09/03/06.

"They are not only taking and robbing us of our fish, but they are also trying to stop us from fishing", said Jeylani Shaykh Abdi, a fisherman in Merca, 100km south of Mogadishu. "They have rammed our boats and cut our nets", he added. Another Merca fisherman, Mohamed Hussein, said [Our] existence depends on the fish. He accused the international community of "talking only about the piracy problem in Somalia, but not about the destruction of our coast and our lives by these foreign ships". Jeylani noted that the number of foreign ships had increased over time. "It is now normal to see them on a daily basis, a few miles off our shores" (IRIN 09/03/06).

Describing the activity as "economic terrorism", Somali fishermen told IRIN that the poachers were not only plundering the fish but were also dumping rubbish and oil into the sea. They complained the Somali government was not strong enough to stop it. "We want the international agencies to help us deal with this problem", said Hussein. "If nothing is done about them, there soon won't be much fish left in our coastal waters". Musse Gabobe Hassan and Mohamud Hassan Tako of the Mogadishu Maritime and Fisheries Institute accuse foreign ships of illegal fishing and dumping of hazardous waste in Somali waters. "Somalia’s coastal communities who eke their livelihood from the sea are appealing to the international community for help stop the illegal fishing fleets from both the developed and developing countries that are robbing our marine wealth and destroying its habitats", they added.

Like the UN Security Council, Chatham House, an International Affairs Think-Tank, in a much publicized recent Paper on piracy in Somalia failed to present a balanced view of the issue and concentrated on the shipping piracy side of the coin. Roger Middleton, the author of the Paper, however, mentions in passing that European, Asian and African (Egypt and Kenya) illegally fish in the Somalia waters. In ignoring the principal IUU factor, the origin and the purpose of the shipping piracy, UN and Roger Middleton seem to be either misled or pressured to take this one-sided course by powerful interests who want to cover up and protect the profitable business of illegal fishing.

These crises of the illegal fishing, waste dumping, warlords/mafia deals and the loud complaints of the Somali fishermen and civil society have been known to UN agencies and international organizations all along. The UN Agencies and organizations, which have been fully aware of these crises, often expressed concern and lamentations but never took any positive action against these criminal activities. It appears as if they have also failed to inform the UN Security Council of this tragedy before it passed its resolutions 1816 and 1838 early this year.

Mr. Ould Abdalla, UN Secretary General Special Envoy for Somalia, who should know better, continued to condemn Somali shipping piracy in a number of press statements and rightly so though biased. In his latest Press Statement of 11/11/08 on the subject matter, he warmly welcomed the agreement by European Union member states to send ships to combat piracy off Somalia. "I am extremely pleased by the EU’s decision", said Mr Ould-Abdallah. "Piracy off the Somali coast is posing a serious threat to the freedom of international navigation and regional security". But he forgot to condemn fishing piracy, mention the Somali fishing communities’ livelihood security or to propose concrete actions to deal with the two inter-related piracies, which are like the two sides of the same coin.

An FAO study, Somalia’s Fishery Review by Frans Teutscher, Nov. 11, 2005, states, "In the absence of legal framework and/or for capacities for monitoring, control and surveillance, extensive illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) is taking place and considerable quantities of non-targeted by catch are discarded because they cannot presently be utilized". The report said that the foreign IUUs maximize their catch by fishing throughout the year without regard to the wider marine ecosystem, not respecting fish and crustacean spawning periods or irreparable damage done by their massive drift nets and use of explosives or the loss of local fishermen’s livelihood.

In a letter to the SSDF dated January 1998, Mr. Dominic Langenbacher, UNDP Somalia Resident Representative, expressed his apprehension of the danger posed to the Somali marine resources and environment by foreign vessels. "The concern of the international community is that the threat of toxic waste dumping, pirate fishing by foreign vessels and over fishing of Somali stocks could adversely, and perhaps permanently, affect the ecosystem of the entire region" he said. "Furthermore, Somalia currently has no provision to deal with potential oil spills or other marine disasters and has no capability to monitor and control her coastal waters and, if necessary, provide sea search or rescue operations", he added.

Dr Mustafa Tolba, former Executive Director of UNEP, confirmed that Italian companies were dumping lethal toxic waste in Somalia which might "contribute to the loss of life in the already devastated country". Dr Tolba added that the shipment of the toxic wastes from Italy that could also aggravate the destruction of the ecosystem in Somalia "earned a company, which ships the waste, between 2 to 3 million dollars in profits" (Sunday Nation, 06/09/92).

In a proposal for action to the UNDP for Somalia in early 1990s, Mr. John Laurence, a fishery consultant with PanOcena Resources Ltd, reports the catastrophic and heartbreaking illegal foreign exploitation of the Somali seas. "With regards to the controlled exploitation of the Somali deep sea fishing grounds by the huge foreign factory ships and vessels it is our opinion that the UN must get involved. This area is recognized as one of the 5 richest fishing zones of the world and previously unexploited. It is now being ravaged, unchecked by any authority, and if it continues to be fished at the level it is at present stocks are in danger of being depleted …. So, a world resource is under serious threat and the UN is sitting back doing nothing to prevent it". "Secondly, the Somali people are being denied any income from this resource due to their inability to license and police the zone" and " the UN is turning a blind eye to the activities of the fishing vessels whose operators are not paying their dues; which in any other circumstances would be enforced by any international court of law", argues Laurence.

Surprisingly, the UN disregarded its own findings of the violations, ignored the Somali and international appeals to act on the continued ravaging of the Somali marine resources and dumping of hazardous wastes. Instead, the UN and the big powers, invoking Charter IIV of the UN Charter, decided to "enter the territorial waters of Somalia……and ..…use, within the territorial waters of Somalia ….all necessary means to identify, deter, prevent, and repress acts of piracy and armed robbery, including but not limited to boarding, searching, and seizing vessels engaged in or suspected of engaging in acts of piracy or armed robbery, and to apprehend persons engaged in such acts with a view to such persons being prosecuted" (Resolution 1816).

It should be noted that there is no mention of the illegal fishing piracy, hazardous waste dumping or the plight of the Somali fishermen in the UN Resolutions. Justice and fairness have been overlooked in these twin problems of Fishing Piracy and Shipping Piracy.

The Illegality and Impracticality of the actions of the UN, NATO and EU

This Global Armada is in the Somali waters illegally as it is not approved by the Somali Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP). It is also unlikely it will achieve its stated objectives to curb the shipping piracy as it is now conceived. The TFP and the members of the European Parliament rejected these UN and European decisions to police the Somali seas (both the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden) as both illegal and unworkable. At a Press Conference in Nairobi on October 18th 2008, the Deputy Speaker of the TFP, Mohamed Omar Dalha, termed the deployment of foreign warships to the country's coast to fight piracy as invasion of its sovereignty and asked the foreign warships to "move out of the Somali waters". The Speaker questioned the intent of the deployment and suggested that the powers involved had a hidden agenda. He said if these powers were genuine in curbing the piracy they would have supported and empowered the Somali authorities, who would be more effective in stopping the menace. "If the millions of dollars given to the pirates or wasted in the warship policing there were given to us, we would have eliminated this curse", he said.

Several EU members of parliament (MEPs) called the EU naval mission to be deployed against pirates off the coasts of Somalia as a "military nonsense", "morally wrong" and having "no international legal basis". German green MEP Angelika Beer underlined the lack of international law to sustain the proposed European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) mission. "There is no clarity to the limitations of this mandate. Will the EU be able to sink ships and arrest pirates?" she asked. Portuguese socialist MEP Ana Maria Gomes gave a fiery speech on the "moral problem" of the EU mission, which, in her opinion, is only about "protecting oil tankers". "Nobody gives a damn about the people in Somalia who die like flies". she said (EU Observer of 15th October 2008).


The EU, NATO and US Navies can, of course, Rambo and obliterate the fishermen pirates and their supporting coastal communities but that would be illegal, criminal act. Yet, it may temporarily reduce the intensity of the shipping piracy but it would not result in a long-term solution of the problem. The risk of loss of life of foreign crews and ecological impact of major oil spill would be a marine catastrophe of gigantic proportions for the whole coastal regions of East Africa and the Gulf of Aden. In their current operations, the Somali fishermen pirates genuinely believe that they are protecting their fishing grounds (both 12-mile territorial and EEZ waters). They also feel that they exacting justice and compensation for the marine resources stolen and the destroyed ecosystem by the IUUs. And their thinking is shared and fully supported by the coastal communities, whose protectors and providers they became.

The matter needs careful review and better understanding of the local environment. The piracy is based on local problems and it requires a number of comprehensive joint local and external partners approaches.

Firstly, practical and lasting solution lies in jointly addressing the twin problems of the shipping piracy and the illegal fishing piracy, the root cause of the crisis.

Secondly, the national institutional crisis should be reviewed along with the piracy issues.

Thirdly, local institutions should be involved and supported, particularly by helping to form coastguards, training and coastguard facilities. These may sound asking too much to donors and UN agencies. But we should ask what it meant those who paid tens of millions dollars of ransom and their loved ones held hostage for months.

Fourthly, a joint Somali and UN oversight agency - like the present ICAO for the Somali airspace - should be considered.

Directly related news --------

The captain of the attacked Croatian vessel ship says that the crew used water canons to hit the armed Somali pirates, and the French caught them weakened. "They are armed and we are not, that is the problem, they can do what they want. If we had guns like in war, that would be a different thing" said Toni Dunatov, the captain of the Zadar tanker "Donat" that managed to defend themselves from a pirate attack in the Gulf of Aden, writes As the captain says, the reports that the French intervention saved him, his crew and his ship, are totally false. The captain says that the seafarers managed to resist the attack themselves. "We prepared ourselves in the way that we could. We used the fire-fighting water canons to spray the sides to somewhat bother them. What the French are bragging for saving us is far from the truth" said the brave captain. After the ship had already been defended from the attack, the French arrested the pirates that attacked the tanker in small boats.

The Russian Baltic Fleet's frigate Neustrashimy (Fearless) came on Tuesday to the rescue of a drifting fishing boat in the Gulf of Aden flying the Yemeni flag, a Russian Navy spokesman said Tuesday. Captain 1st Rank Igor Dygalo said the Neustrashimy had received information that the boat was in distress. The boat's crew of 11 people contained nine Somalis and two Yemenis, including a pregnant woman. "Competent medical assistance was rendered to those in need of it; foodstuffs and water they strongly needed were provided", Dygalo said. He said the Neustrashimy is tugging the fishing boat to the port of Al-Mukalla in Yemen.

Three modern Saudi frigates have been patrolling the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Aden, and the Red Sea since the middle of last month, to protect Saudi and commercial shipping from attacks by Somali pirates. The frigates carry helicopters for a rapid response for help from threatened ships, in cooperation with other navies.

China's anti-piracy naval fleet sailed into waters off Somalia on Tuesday, starting a three-month mission to protect passing ships against pirates. The Chinese naval mission to tackle rampant piracy in the seas off Somalia has begun with a destroyer escorting four vessels, the official Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday. The three Chinese ships and one from Hong Kong were being led by the destroyer Wuhan, one of the Chinese navy's most sophisticated warships. "The protection mission has begun", Xinhua quoted commander Rear Admiral Du Jingchen as saying in a brief report. "We will earnestly follow United Nations' resolutions and related international laws, meticulously organise, strengthen coordination and keep close watch to ensure the security of the vessels and crew being protected", he said. The Chinese force, consisting of two destroyers and a supply ship, left China late last month.

The ships have about 800 crew, including 70 special operations troops, aboard. A surge in attacks at sea this year in the busy Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean off Somalia has pushed up insurance costs, brought the Somali gangs tens of millions of dollars in ransom and prompted foreign warships to go to the area. The Chinese Ministry of Transport has also started accepting escort requests from Chinese vessels, China Daily reports. The Chinese convoy, alongside other international warships, will patrol the area near the Gulf of Aden, a busy shipping lane leading to and from the Suez Canal. Chinese mainland registered or invested ships set to sail through the Gulf of Aden can now hand in applications for escort to the China Shipowners' Association, who will pass on the request to the Ministry of Transport. The ministry will provide information about the vessels seeking help to the Chinese fleet on a daily basis. Vessels from China's Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan can also seek escorts from the warships, according to an announcement by the Ministry of Transport. The Hong Kong Marine Department has passed seven applications from Hong Kong-flagged vessels to the mainland requesting protection off Somalia, Hong Kong media reported on Monday.

The arrival of the Chinese fleet was welcomed by Hong Kong ship owners, Hong Kong's Marine Director Roger Tupper was quoted as saying. "[The protection of] Hong Kong-flagged vessels will be facilitated", Tupper said. The Chinese flotilla will also protect ships carrying humanitarian relief supplies for international organizations, such as the World Food Program. Foreign ships can also apply for escort; the Chinese side will make a decision, pending actual conditions, the Ministry of Transport said. The convoy, consisting of two missile destroyers and a supply vessel, departed on December 26, 2008 from Sanya in south China's Hainan Province. It is the country's first naval deployment on a potential combat mission beyond its territorial waters in recent history. While China's growing wealth and influence have seen it involved in a number of peacekeeping operations around the world, it has traditionally kept troops close to home, reflecting a doctrine of non-interference in other nations' affairs. But the Somalia mission is an opportunity for China to take a greater role in global security without raising hackles from neighbours, many of whom, including Japan, have long-festering territorial disputes with Beijing, analysts have said.

Local authorities in the central Galgadud region have appealed for urgent help for at least 80,000 people displaced by fighting in the towns of Dusamareb and Guri-Eil. Fighting between the Al-Shabab and Ahlu Sunna Waljama'a Islamist groups has been continuing in the area for the past 10 days. "Almost the entire population of the town [30,000] and thousands of displaced [about 10,000] from Mogadishu fled the town after intense fighting between the two groups", Ali Sheikh Mahamud, the Guri-Eil district commissioner, told IRIN on 5 January.

Most of the displaced have scattered across rural villages, which are hard to reach because of rampant insecurity and limited resources, he said, impeding any aid delivery. The IDP population was mixed, with some households previously displaced from Mogadishu and others newly displaced from other parts of Galgadud, Mahamud said. In Dusamareb, the regional capital, 500km north of Mogadishu, some 7,000 families have been displaced, according to civil society sources. "Our estimate is that 7,000 [42,000 people] have been displaced and most of those are the previously displaced from Mogadishu", Aded Sheikhdon, a civil society activist, told IRIN. Sheikhdon said the displaced were spending their nights in the open, under trees: "The nights are cold while the days are very hot". The IDPs desperately needed shelter material, food and water, he said.

While acknowledging that the security situation did not allow international aid agencies to operate, Mahamud said those who wanted to help should contact community leaders. "We will find ways to get any assistance to the people", he said. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said it was planning a general food distribution in late January, security permitting. "Depending on a successful security assessment giving the go-ahead to operate in the area, WFP is planning a general food distribution later in January in Dusamareb and Guri-Eil districts", said Mahamud Hassan, WFP Somalia spokesman told IRIN in Nairobi. Attempts are being made to end the fighting. Ilmi Hirsi Arab, chairman of the area council of elders, told IRIN they were trying to find ways to stop the fighting and bring the people back home. "We are meeting today [5 January] to try to find a peaceful solution", he said, appealing to both sides to stop the hostilities and talk. "We want an immediate end to this and we are calling on both to talk to each other and end the suffering of the people", he said. So far, Mahamud said, "100 people have died in the fighting and around 70 have been injured". However, a local journalist told IRIN the two sides were still facing each other, "with no movement towards talks". He said both Dusamareb and Guri-Eil were quiet on 5 January but there were concerns of a major clash unless the elders succeeded in their mediation. Since fighting between Ethiopian-backed Somali forces and insurgents intensified in early 2007, about one million Somalis have fled their homes. An estimated 16,000 civilians have been killed and some 30,000 injured, according to human rights groups. Aid workers estimate that more than three million Somalis need assistance.

A roadside bomb killed a Ugandan soldier in Somalia's capital on Tuesday and masked gunmen murdered a man working for the United Nation's World Food Programme in the southwest of the Horn of African nation. The killings come as Ethiopian troops who have been propping an interim government and fighting Islamist insurgents for the past two years are pulling out of Somalia, saying their mission has been accomplished. The Ugandan soldier died and another was wounded when a convoy of African Union peacekeepers was hit by an improvised explosive device on the outskirts of Mogadishu, Major Barigye Ba-Hoku, spokesman for the small AMISOM force, told reporters. "Our convoy was on routine duties of mine-sweeping", he said. The World Food Programme food monitor, Ibrahim Hussein Duale, was killed on Tuesday near a town in the southwestern region of Gedo, the WFP and residents said. "We call on all parties to allow us to do our job -- providing food to feed the hungry at this critical time", said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran in a statement. WFP said that three masked gunmen shot Duale at a school, the third WFP staff member killed in Somalia since August 2008.

The failure of the Somalia state following a U.S.–backed Ethiopian military effort to shore up an illegitimate government against a popular Islamist group has resulted in unintended consequences that the world cannot tolerate -- in particular the dramatic rise in piracy off the Gulf of Aden. A coordinated international effort to patrol Somali waters and prevent piracy is being discussed as the foundation for a concentrated international effort to stabilize the Somali state, writes the Christian Science Monitor.

Meanwhile the U.N. envoy to Somalia said the United Nations should create a Baghdad-style Green Zone in the African country so he can base all his aid workers there. The U.N. now keeps its international Somalia staff members in Kenya to shield them from the risk of attacks and kidnappings. In 2008, at least 13 aid workers were killed in Somalia, which has not had an effective government since 1991. "It is very difficult to address (the) Somali situation from Nairobi (the Kenyan capital). I think it is even negative", the envoy, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, said during a news conference in Nairobi, Kenya. "We should have a Green Zone, if necessary, in Somalia". Ould-Abdallah did not give a time frame for creating a fortified, walled-off area like the Green Zone in Iraq used by U.S.-led forces, but it would be costly and time-consuming.

In accordance with Article 45 of the Transitional Federal Charter, the Somali Parliament should act expeditiously to select a new president to succeed Mr. Yusuf. The Prime Minister, Mr. Nur Hassan Hussein, and the leaders of the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia should intensify efforts to achieve a government of national unity and bolster security by forming a joint security force. The U.S. will support such an effort, and provide $5 million to help underwrite it, VOA reports. UN envoy Ould-Abdallah said he hopes an upcoming parliamentary vote — expected in Somalia by Jan. 28 — to name a new president will not be corrupt like past votes that have been tainted by secret deals. "Somalis have to work to expand their government, try to have a government of national unity and vote for a new president", Ould-Abdallah said.

The Ethiopian government says failure of Somalia Transitional Federal Government to lead its well organised forces has left the country's stubborn rebel group, Al Shabaab to regroup and wage attacks on government. Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin said Somali leadership could succeed with bringing peace in their country only if they could keep close a security vacuum when Ethiopia fully withdraws from the country. He said though Somalia is one of the troubled African states, it did not receive much attention and support from the UN Security Council to halt violence and stabilise the government as it has been the case in Darfur region in Sudan. "The problem in Somalia needed much more attention from the international community, and should be perceived from its repercussions on the region as a whole as well as on international commerce", he said. Ethiopia which has begun to withdraw from Somalia, backed TFG in 2006 to oust Islamic hardliners who had occupied most of the country. Since then, Al Shabaab has waged a series of attacks to oust the government. The national news agency, ENA reported the TFG acting President Sheik Adan Mohamed Madoobe saying Somalia would maintain relations with Ethiopian and neighbouring countries to maintain peace and stability.

Members of the extremist Islamist Shebab group and supporters of Ahlu Sunna Wal-jamaah clashed on Tuesday morning in the suburbs of Guri Ceel (Guriel) in Central Somalia with six people killed. Seven people are reported to have also been injured in the fighting, with both sides thought to still be facing each other outside the town.

A Mississauga man running for president of Puntland, an Islamic state within Somalia at the Horn of Africa, promises to end piracy against international shipping by creating jobs, writes John Goddard in The Star. Mr. Adam Esse, who also served as a Michael Ignatieff delegate at the last Liberal convention, said pirates would rather fish or do other work, rather than raiding ships and holding them for ransom. Stopping the piracy that is disrupting shipping and terrorizing sailors in the Gulf of Aden requires basic development that would lead to other jobs, he said by phone yesterday from the capital, Garowe. "I want to become president to change the bad situation that we have over here in terms of security, stability, the economy, education and equality between the genders".

Puntland is an arid semi-autonomous northern state occupying one-third of Somalia, a country with no effective national government. Election day is Thursday. Esse is up against 10 other candidates, including incumbent Mohamed Musa Hersi, who also holds a Canadian passport. The winner must get the most votes in a 66-member parliament made up of appointed members from various clans, sub-clans and sub-sub-clans. Esse, 45, is a controversial figure in the GTA. He was born in Puntland and attended post-secondary schools in Saudi Arabia, the United States and Canada.

On his website,, he calls himself "an imam, adviser, facilitator, teacher, activist, mediator, arbitrator, co-ordinator and community leader". He lists his membership on the RCMP commissioner's advisory committee on visible minorities, and says he is "founder and president of the Coalition for Muslim Organizations", which appears to exist in name only, with no phone number or website. Aside from his Puntland candidacy, he has founded breakaway mosque Darul Hijra Islamic Centre, on Kipling Ave. near Highway 401. The presidential race initially drew about 35 candidates, but the two main challengers to Mr. Hersi's rule appear to be General Abdullahi Ahmed Ilkajir, and the opposition leader, Abdirahman Mohamed Farole. Mr. Farole, a doctoral candidate in the history department at La Trobe University, returned to Puntland in November after two years in Melbourne.

He has been an outspoken critic of Range's rights to Puntland's resources since the initial agreement was signed. In contrast, Mr. Hersi's government has in the past received funding from Range and provides the company with armed security guards when its executives visit the region, which is often a staging ground for offshore pirates and onshore kidnappings of Westerners. Also important in these struggles and imbalances is Africa Oil's ability to fund the joint venture's ongoing exploration efforts. Africa Oil is spending $US45.5 million ($64 million) on exploration of two onshore blocks to earn an 80 per cent interest in those areas. The Canadian company completed an onshore seismic program last year, but as of the end of September it had only $US2.25 million cash on hand and had received $C6 million ($7 million) in loans from its major shareholder, Sweden's Lundin family. Reuters this week reported that Africa Oil had stopped exploration in Puntland and had not paid staff for three months. But Range's executive director, Peter Landau, claimed the report was inaccurate and was instead a typical dispute with a contractor.

The position of the German government towards international terrorism has been extremely vague in the past two decades, states the Asian Tribune and says: Tempered by their vulnerable history, they were reluctant to commit themselves to military missions abroad. They diplomatically circumvented involvement in the Iraq war. Even their engagement in Afghanistan was presented primarily as a humanitarian exercise. This has been a continuation of their policy of non-involvement in combat missions. Even their presence in Somalia in 1993 was confined to regional development projects in Belet-Huen, at a time as the captured American soldiers were publicly lynched in Mogadishu. But the world is changing rapidly. The present day crisis involving Somali pirates has forced the German government to catapult itself in to action. "We are world champions in export trade. Guarding the sea routes are not only vital but essential" said the German defence minister the other day. "Our security depends on our engagement in Hindukush" said his predecessor. In other words the Germans are beginning to realize the danger of "lawless zones" in some parts of the world. Let alone "developing" other countries, their own economic interests compel them to grasp this unpalatable truth. Meanwhile strange tones were emanating from the last bastion of pacifism in Germany, as we heard Claudia Roth announcing the Green party’s attitude towards "justifiable wars" with international approval. This is no surprise in a country, increasingly involved in international "peace keeping missions". Perhaps Obama may act as the messiah to provide the legality!

Picture: An illegal and lawless act of piracy can also take this form. From: