Militants who captured a South Korean fishing vessel off the coast of Somalia denied Wednesday they were pirates and said they were defending their waters from illegal fishing.Prior posts on the Somali fish wars here, here and here. As noted in one of those posts:
Abdi Garaad Daahir, a militia spokesman contacted by The Associated Press via two-way radio, said fighters from his clan had captured the vessel fishing illegally in Somalia's territorial waters.
"We are not pirates, but we are patriots who stood up to defend our sea resources from those taking advantage of their country's lack of central government and coastal guards," he said.
But South Korea disputed this, saying the pirates seized the vessel in international waters and later took it to Somalia's waters.
Somalia has had no coast guard or navy since 1991, when warlords ousted the ruling dictator and then turned on each other.
In recent months, fishing trawlers from Taiwan, China, Ukraine and other countries have been captured by Somali pirates, and released when ransoms have been paid. Since there is no government, it might be understandable if the Somalis are attempting, in the only way they have, to keep their waters free of foreign fishing craft. The argument is diluted, however, by the capture of non-fishing vessels and attacks on merchant shipping passing through the area (or up to 160 miles offshore).