Good Company

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Protecting Somalia's Fishing Grounds

Protecting merchant shipping and World Food Program shipping from Somali pirates is a good thing, but protecting the rich Somali fishing grounds from exploitation by other international fishing fleets also ought to be a priority of the UN until Somalia has a government capable of looking after its own interests. I have noted the problem facing the Somali fishermen before. See here and at the links therein.

The Somalis have asked for U.S. help before (see here) and there are some arguments that the pirates have been capturing fishing vessels poaching in Somali waters:
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).
UN reference for "exclusive economic zones" here:
1. In the exclusive economic zone, the coastal State has:

(a) sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources, whether living or non-living, of the waters superjacent to the seabed and of the seabed and its subsoil, and with regard to other activities for the economic exploitation and exploration of the zone, such as the production of energy from the water, currents and winds;

(b) jurisdiction as provided for in the relevant provisions of this Convention with regard to:

(i) the establishment and use of artificial islands, installations and structures;

(ii) marine scientific research;

(iii) the protection and preservation of the marine environment;

(c) other rights and duties provided for in this Convention.

2. In exercising its rights and performing its duties under this Convention in the exclusive economic zone, the coastal State shall have due regard to the rights and duties of other States and shall act in a manner compatible with the provisions of this Convention.

3. The rights set out in this article with respect to the seabed and subsoil shall be exercised in accordance with Part VI.


Breadth of the exclusive economic zone

The exclusive economic zone shall not extend beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured.
Pending the development of a unified national government in Somalia, the UN probably ought to undertake a declaration of the Somali EEZ as some sort of "UN protectorate" and sanction the patrolling of those waters for the benefit of the Somali people. This also has the benefit of taking out the only possible legitimate reason the Somali pirates have for capturing ships off Somalia...

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