Night ops

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Somalia: Yemenis fishing in trouble waters


The law of the lawless sea portrayed in an article about Yemeni fishermen fishing off Somalia here:
Yemeni fishermen and their Somali counterparts from Puntland have reached a kind of unofficial agreement: The Yemenis send their vessels to Somalia and then either get the Somalis to fish for them and buy the catch off them, or are allowed to fish for themselves on payment of a hefty fee. In the latter case the Puntland Ministry of Fisheries licenses the Yemeni fishermen to fish, and provides an armed man to go on board.

To get permission to fish, Yemeni boat-owners pay US$1,000 upfront to Puntland officials through an agent in Mukalla, southern Yemen. The Somali leaders' green light enables Yemeni fishermen to fish freely in Puntland territorial waters. The Somali agent pays US$300 for the hired guard.

If the Yemeni fishermen choose to buy a Somali catch - caught using the Yemeni boats - they have to pay $1,200 ($1,000 for the license, and $200 in tax). The catch for each vessel can usually be sold in Yemen for up to $10,000.

Yemeni fishermen say they face many hazards when on trips to Somalia. “When Somali pirates see our boats, they block our way and demand that we hand over diesel, petrol and food. They are hungry people. Sometimes they kidnap us and demand $20,000 to release us. We are helpless. We don't give them any money, because we don't take any with us. We contact the agent via radio and complain to him about his countrymen. The agent negotiates with them and later they free us - but usually after taking our possessions and insulting as well as intimidating us," said al-Nawbi. One of his friends was recently shot dead while being chased by Somali pirates.

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