Eyes of the Fleet

Eyes of the Fleet

Thursday, August 01, 2013

The Lovely Irony of ("former") Somali Pirates, Protection Rackets and Other Scams

Anyone who has followed any aspect of the rise of the Somali pirates knows that they have long used the excuse (see here (2006) and here (2005)) that they were acting as some sort of Coast Guard to protect the fisheries of Somali waters from incursions by illegal, outside fishing boats.

Those with a little more knowledge will know that outside fishing interests used to pay fees to "leaders" in Somalia to gain "licenses" to allow their fishing boats to go unmolested in Somali waters. You will also recall that the Somali "coast guards" began to attack ships having nothing to do with fishing and which traversed waters far from any possible Somali claim. In short, the pirate life in Somalia has always been based on a foundation of misrepresentation. As noted by UN report linked below,
For the past decade, the Monitoring Group has reported extensively on Somali piracy. It has mapped how piracy grew out of a kind of protection racket in response to illegal fishing and toxic waste dumping, and evolved into a money-driven, clan-based, transnational organized crime, constituting a threat to global shipping.

So, given that, should the recent UN report revealing that "former" Somali pirates are hiring themselves out to protect fishing vessels illegally fishing in Somali waters be much of surprise?

How about the fact that some of these pirates are being funded by a group of Arabian Gulf money men? See Muscat Daily's report GCC businessmen supporting illegal fishing in Somalia:
A UN report released last week has revealed fears that businessmen in the Gulf region may be actively supporting illegal fishing in Somali waters, often using former pirates as armed guards for the fishing vessels.
‘Puntland officials estimate tens of thousands of tonnes of illegal catch has been fished from Puntland’s coastline between 2012 and 2013 by hundreds of illegal fishing vessels. The vessels are mainly Iranian and Yemeni-owned and all use Somali armed security. The Monitoring Group inspected four forged fishing licences registered between May and October 2012 that have been confiscated from unlicenced Iranian vessels by international naval forces,’ stated the report. ‘Local fishermen from different communities along the Puntland coast between Las Qoray and Hafun have confirmed that the private security teams on board such vessels are normally provided from pools of demobilised Somali pirates and coordinated by a ring of pirate leaders and associated businessmen operating in Puntland, Somaliland, the UAE, Oman, Yemen and Iran.’
You may recall an earlier post about the successes of Somalis protecting illegal fishing from May 2013, Somalia: Sometimes you have to laugh - "Puntland seizes 5 illegal fishing boats, 78 Iranians arrested".

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