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Analyses Last Updated: Dec 8, 2008 - 12:53:13 PM

Somali Piracy - The Other Side
By Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis, American Chronicl4 7/12/08
Dec 8, 2008 - 12:51:30 PM

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As the ongoing piracy crisis off the Somali coast at the Horn of Africa region risks triggering the world´s first major military enterprise after Iraq,

in two previous articles of the series, I provided with a list of my earlier articles (21 in total) on the subject (titles and links), and went on publishing a recapitulative record of the insightful press releases of the leading NGO Ecoterra; more specifically, I republished Press Release updates no 43 to 50. In the present article, I republish Ecoterra Press Release updates no 51, 52 and 53.

51st Update 2008-11-15 18:55:10 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.

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 52 - 1225 h into the FAINA Crisis - Update Summary

Efforts for a peaceful release continued, but the now one and a half month long stand-off concerning Ukrainian MV FAINA is still not yet solved, though intensive negotiations have continued and both sides are striving to finalize the modalities of the safe release of crew and vessel.

Other news from abducted ships ----------

FV TIAN YU 8, the Chinese fishing vessel arrested by Somalis for alleged illegal fishing and carrying of ivory is detained near Kismaayo. The vessel belongs to Tianjin Ocean Fishing Corp. a state-owned enterprise based in northern Tianjin with more than 600 employees and 22 vessels. An interim working group had been set up to rescue the 24 crewmen on board, who are mainly Chinese nationals from China's South-western Sichuan, central Henan and other provinces, but also include one Japanese, one Taiwanese, three Filipinos and four Vietnamese. The management of the company is "highly concerned" about the safety of the crewmen on its fishing boat "Tanyo 8", which was seized off eastern Africa on Thursday, a company spokesman said on Saturday. Local reports, however, confirmed that the crew is all right.

Neslihan, a Turkish ship hijacked by pirates off Somalia late October, is anchored at the port of Eyl, where the most of the hijacked vessels are kept by the armed pirates and white people are not allowed. Pirates are expected to bring here another Turkish vessel "Karagol" which was hijacked three days ago. A group of Turkish diplomats has arrived in the region via Djibouti and they are now holding secret talks, officials said.

Talks held in Addis Ababa under the auspices of Ethiopian President Meles Zenawi between Somalia's TFG President Abdullahi Yusuf and Somalia's Prime Minister Noor Hassan Hussein apparently could not agree on a new list of the cabinet. 18 Minister and Vice-minister positions are to be filled for the remaining 9 months of TFG's tenure.

Other news "The escalation continues!" -------

Speaking to a large crowd of people in the port town of Merca, after two days ago their fighters had taken the control of that strategic town, the spokesman of the Al Shabaab militia, Sheikh Muktar Robow (also known as Abu Mansur), said the NATO and other EU Navies in Somalia's water have their own interest and that is to collect the resources in our waters". Abu Mansur accused NATO and other foreign troops in the waters of Somalia, for releasing members of pirate gangs, while they were detained as they were under piracy acts. "Remember while our administration was fully working in south and central Somalia, we cracked down the pirates from all Somali seas" said an Al Shabaab spokesman.

"Kenya will face war if they enter into Somalia", a speaker from the Islamic movement in Elwak-Somalia, Hassan Jibril, member of the Islamic administration in the border town said, responding to accusations from Kenya that Islamic fighters *had abducted two Italian nuns from Elwak-Kenya. "The allegations are untrue and we will not tolerate Kenyan soldiers entering where we rule", stated Hassan Jibril, who decried the displacement of his people by mounting Kenya army presence in the area. A Somaliweyn reporter on the ground said, the inhabitants in the area of Elwak started to evacuate on both sides of the border as they fear possible clashes between the Islamists and Kenyan soldiers who were deployed at the border of the two countries after two Italian nuns and their Kenyan driver were abducted last Sunday by unknown gunmen, who took also three vehicles. They are safe, the Kenyan Government, who is talking to local elders, has stated. The nuns have been identified as Caterina Giraudo, 67 and Maria Teresa Olivero, 60.

Britain has circulated a draft resolution that would impose new U.N. sanctions on anyone contributing to violence and instability in Somalia, U.N. Security Council diplomats told Reuters on Wednesday. The draft resolution, distributed to the 15 members of the Security Council, calls for asset freezes and travel bans for anyone engaging in or supporting violence in Somalia, including individuals or companies that violate a 1992 U.N. arms embargo against the lawless Horn of Africa country. The resolution, obtained by Reuters, also targets anyone "obstructing the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Somalia". Several Western council diplomats said they hoped the resolution would be approved next week. "The idea is to increase the pressure on those responsible for undermining stability in Somalia," a Western diplomat told Reuters.

While European media and their consumers seem to be only worried if the computer-games for the Christmas presents to their kid are not looted by Somali pirates from sea-jacked cargo-ships or jealously report about the "get-any-girl-you-want"- success of the Somali bandits, whereby they obviously suppress the jealosy for their own Al Capones in Hamburg, London, Brussels and Madrid, who light their cigars with 100 Euro notes and let the girls dance, thousands of starving and destitute Somali families fled again last week across the border to Kenya and hundreds across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen.

52nd Update 2008-11-16 06:30:18 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.

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 53 - 1240 h into the FAINA Crisis - Update Summary

Efforts for a peaceful release continued, but the now one and a half month long stand-off concerning Ukrainian MV FAINA is still not yet solved, though intensive negotiations have continued and both sides are striving to finalize the modalities of the safe release of crew and vessel.

News from other abducted ships ----------

After Two Months Finally Free

Japanese owned MT STOLT VALOR, having been sea-jacked on 15th September, was last night released with all crew members all right. Besides 18 Indians, the crew comprises of one Bangladeshi, two Filipinos and one Russian. were held for two month during which difficult negotiations took place. The vessel is on long-term lease to Stolt-Tankers of Stolt-Nielsen group. After a ransom was paid all crew members and the ship have been released safely. All the 22 crew members on board the ship are "safe and in healthy condition", NUSI General Secretary A.G. Serang confirmed. The ships is reported to be sailing now towards Mumbai and is expected to reach the port in about three-four days´ time. Failing to hold her tears, Seema Goyal, wife of the Captain of the ship, after being informed of the release by the Director General Shipping thanked those who extended their support to her efforts to secure the release of the captive ship. Soon after this news, Seema Goyal, who has been crusading for the early release of the Indians on board said, "I am so happy today. Finally the wait is over." The Indian government had sought international help to end the hijack drama. The ship, registered in Hong Kong and managed by Mumbai-based Fleet Marine Ltd., was carrying 24,000 tonnes consignment of oil products when it was hijacked. The Japanese owners of MT Stolt Valor had been leading the negotiations, which were hampered by several set-backs. Another Stolt operated ship, the MT STOLT STRENGTH is still in the hands of her captors.

A Japanese cargo ship was seized by pirates off the coast of Somalia late on Saturday. Seoul's foreign ministry is saying today. The cargo ship has a crew of 23 sailors, including five South Koreans, Yonhap said.

NATO says a Italian naval destroyer responding to a merchant vessel's distress signal prevented a likely pirate attack in the Gulf of Aden off Somalia. The military alliance says in a statement that the Panama-flagged merchant ship Kirti was sailing toward Suez on Saturday afternoon when it reported two skiffs attempting to approach it at high speed. The Italian destroyer Luigi Durand de la Penne was patrolling nearby as part of NATO's anti-piracy operation and immediately sent its helicopter. NATO says the skiffs changed course and left after seeing the helicopter.

Ecoterra Intl., whose work does focus on nature- and human-rights-protection and - as the last international environmental organization still working in Somalia - had through it's ECOP-marine group alerted ship-owners since 1992, many of whom were fishing illegally in the 200 nm Exclusive Economic Zone, to stay away from Somali waters. The non-governmental organization had requested the international community many times for help to protect the coastal waters of the war-torn state, but now lawlessness has seriously increased and gone out of hand. Funding requests for marine surveillance and coastal monitoring, the development of fishing cooperatives and the rehabilitation of legal fishing activities were never met, neither by the EU nor the UN. Since no appropriate help to assist Somali fishing communities or the numerous governance attempts was forthcoming to protect and regulate the Somali waters, organized crime dealing with fake fishing licences first and later engaging in the hi-jacking of commercial vessels has in the meantime taken over the scene. In co-operation with UNOSOM first and later the Regional Seas Programme, Somali governance and the non-governmental group have proven many times that it is possible to implement safeguards and work on proper development, but the selfish interests of the international fishing industry, of criminal organizations working in toxic and even nuclear waste dumping combined with the interests of local warlords with their far bigger financial resources created the present turmoil. Already in 1993/4 Ecoterra Intl. discussed the whole issue of marine safety, illegal fishing, toxic dumping etc. with U.S. Admiral Jonathan T. Howe, even up front during his visit to Garowe (not far from the today's pirate hotspot of Eyl), predicted the developments exactly as we see them today and proposed solutions. Admiral Howe was the Special Representative for Somalia to United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali from March 9, 1993 until his resignation in February 1994 - but nothing was done, not by the UN and not by the U.S. To combat the situation today will cost the international community many more million USD as would have been required to set up and maintain proper coastal and marine management in those days. Likewise the EU was simply deaf to listen to the proposals but was afraid that marine monitoring would expose the misdeeds of their own fishing fleet in Somali waters. Mme. Emma Bonino, the Somali-born Italian was at a certain time holding two offices in the European Commission - High Commissioner of Fisheries and Head of the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) - she tried very hard to secure illegal fishing deals with Somali warlords to benefit the European fishing fleet coercing the Somalis into such ventures with her other, the "humanitarian aid" hand. She only gave up after being shot at near Kisimayu after Somalis had learned about her clandestine deals involving millions of dollars in benefits reaped from the Somali waters. Later she was investigated by the European Commission and allowed to retire from her work for the European offices. The European Union, masterminding the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), has currently at least over 255 fishing vessels "authorized" to hunt the precious commodities (Spain - 160 vessels, France - 75 vessels, Portugal - 17 vessels, UK - 2 vessels, Italy - 1).

Specifically Spanish trawlers with West African crews habitually and illicitly reap the rich harvest of fish off the unprotected Somali coast. It is, literally, daylight robbery on a massive scale. They put nothing into the Somali economy, such as it is, but take a great deal from it.

A number of European companies have dumped toxic and nuclear waste in those same waters, polluting the fishing grounds and the beaches. Such dumping along the Ivory Coast led to at least 17 deaths and widespread health problems - but at least that case was investigated and the culprit, the Dutch company Trafigura, identified, while in Somalia most such cases go unreported, uninvestigated and unpunished. Pirates aboard the MV Faina claim that they want to use the ransom money to clean up the Somali coastline. It´s easy to dismiss such claims as merely an excuse to continue a very profitable business but the fact remains that complaints about illegal fishing and dumping of toxic waste have been ignored and while no government has condoned these activities none have taken an active stand against it.

Ould-Abdallah, UN special envoy to Somalia, claims the practice still continues. "What is most alarming here is that nuclear waste is being dumped. Radioactive uranium waste that is potentially killing Somalis and completely destroying the ocean", he said. There are apparently legal reasons for not naming the companies involved in waste dumping. The practice helps fuel the 18-year-old civil war in Somalia as companies are paying Somali government ministers to dump their waste, or to secure licenses and contracts. Also there are ethical questions to be considered because the companies are negotiating contracts with a government that is largely divided along tribal lines. "How can you negotiate these dealings with a country at war and with a government struggling to remain relevant?" Cashing in around US$1,000 a tonne for "safe" waste disposal costs European companies found it to be very cheap to get rid of the waste, costing as little as US$ 2.50 a tonne.

In 1992, a contract to secure the dumping of toxic waste was made by Swiss and Italian shipping firms Achair Partners and Progresso, with Nur Elmi Osman, a former official appointed to the government of Ali Mahdi Mohamed, one of many militia leaders involved in the ousting of Mohamed Siad Barre, Somalia's former president. The UNEP investigated the matter at the request of the Swiss and Italian governments. Both firms had denied entering into any agreement with militia leaders at the beginning of the Somali civil war. "At the time, it felt like we were dealing with the Mafia, or some sort of organised crime group, possibly working with these industrial firms," Mustafa Tolba, the former UNEP executive director said, who assisted in shielding the environmental specialists from an NGO, who reported one of the first incidences in the year 1988, because two people were killed mafia-style after the case was exposed. "It was very shady, and quite underground, and I would agree with Ould-Abdallah´s claims that it is still going on. Unfortunately the war has not allowed environmental groups to investigate this fully".

In the years since the downfall of the Siad Barre government in January 1991 and up to 2003, every year more than 800 illegal vessels from Kenya, Spain, Italy, Japan, South Korea, China and other nations were exploiting Somalia's coastline. Trawlers from more than 16 different nations were recorded within Somali waters – many of them armed. No royalties were paid, no benefits for the population derived from their resource. Many cases are documented, but justice is not done until today. A decline in illegal fishing and piracy was only achieved during the short period of the UIC ruling in 2006. Today it is not much better than it was before, though the upsurge in "piracy" has caused since the end of 2007 again a serious decline in illegal foreign fishing fleets entering the Somali EEZ. The UIC successor ARS is now in the process to revive good marine governance.

The method of hosing down the protesting little Somali fishermen with hot-water was a kind of sport engaged in by the bigger, much better equipped Tuna, Shark-fin, Lobster and Shrimp fishing fleets often operated by Russians and/or former Soviet Union crewmen which work for Asian businessmen such as Chinese, Taiwanese, Philippines, Pakistanis, Indians, and European Union states like Spain and Italy. It was not a laughing matter for the Somali fishermen, who were no match for the much better equipped trawlers that were illegally fishing in the undefended and unregulated waters of Somalia. There were daily deaths and funerals among many fishing villages and towns dotted along the Somali coastline , which even got an own Somali term for the cause of death: Translated it stands for "hosed by hot water". These mega ships were fishing and processing at the same time and any competition from the villagers were treated ruthlessly.

Some Somali shores became uninhabitable because some of the ships were throwing thousands of Shark carcasses into the sea after their valuable fins had been cut off. The mutilated dead bodies of these majestic sharks were coming into shore and decayed on the village beaches. The smell was terrible and many residents were getting sick due to infections carried by flies from the rotting carcasses. The residents of the coastal towns such as Garacad, Jariiban, Idaan etc. suffered severely. An entire shore line could look like red for entire days; this was not blood but floating lobster-eggs shaven from the processing of Lobster tails for the rich clients mainly in Kenya and Dubai. This indiscriminate lobster harvesting during wrong times, when the female Lobsters carry eggs and the forbidden taking of female lobsters with eggs caused the villagers to go hungry because the marine creatures were depleted by these ruthless commercial fishing practices neglecting any laws of legal fishing or cultural habits.

The Somali captors therefore maintain the ransoms are in lieu of taxes and license fees and reparations for illegal fishing and dumping of toxic waste. The piracy problem started small, with fishermen boarding trawlers that they said had no right to be in Somali waters.

Those claims are backed by the U.N. envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, who said international companies have exploited Somali fishing grounds. "I think Somalis are right to complain of illegal fishing, to complain of dumping of waste, but no individual has a right to police the Somali coast," he said, but local coastal communities see this different and claim their right to self-defence. Already the community of Somalia most famous and best fishermen, the Bajuni from coastal Southern Somalia - a people of Shirazi origin - are nearly extinct. Many had to flee violence among the Somali clans and languish in UNHCR refugee camps, along the Kenya coast or rescued in Canada and similar countries sympathetic to the plight of Somali refugees. Their history of oppression actually goes further back when they were forcefully driven of their Bajuni Islands just north of the Kenya-Somali border by the Russians in 1973, who in those days brought to Somalia their kind of "law and order".

While the global transportation industry cries foul and the Western and Eastern countries alike are sending navy fleets, one must recognize the illegal fishing vessels should also get the same treatment as the pirates. Remember Somalia has no real government since 1991 and there is no entity company, country or otherwise that has a license to fish in Somali waters. Any industrial fishing vessel within the 200nm Exclusive Economic Zone of Somalia, protected by the United Nations Common Law on the Sea, must be treated as a pirate as they are the root cause of the present problem. If such equal justice is not done, the problem will always remain and get worse.

"They want to silence me, it is obvious", said Andrew Mwangura, the Kenya chapter chairman of the East African Seafarers Assistance Programme. Mwangura stated authorities in the region were turning a blind eye to illegal fishing, toxic dumping, drug- and gun-running, illegal charcoal shipments, and human trafficking in Somali waters that were all indirectly fuelling lawlessness and piracy. "All these businesses inter-link. A foreign ship pays a warlord to be allowed to fish illegally off Somalia, and that money then funds at the end also piracy", he said. "But when you start denouncing these things, powerful people get upset because you are spoiling their game".

The annual consequential costs due to over-fishing of the oceans have reached 50 Billion US-Dollar, as calculated by the World Bank and FAO.

While losses at Wall Street due to the present crunch and so far have been calculated to stand at 1,5 Billion Dollar, allowing financial institutions and bankers to be "rescued" by a 700 Billion Dollar rescue plan - using taxpayer's money -,

NOTHING is done to rescue the oceans!

A recent briefing paper by the Royal Institute of International Affairs concluded, "The most powerful weapon against piracy will be peace and opportunity in Somalia, coupled with an effective and reliable police force and judiciary".

Piracy is only a symptom of the power vacuum inside Somalia. The only period during which piracy virtually vanished was during the six months of rule by the Islamic Courts Union in the second half of 2006. After the ICU was overthrown by US-backed Ethiopian troops in January 2007, piracy quickly re-emerged, with the average ransom tripling over this period.

A coalition of 52 aid agencies issued a statement saying the international community had "completely failed Somali civilians". The aid groups estimated that almost 40,000 people had been displaced from Mogadishu in the last few weeks, with 1.1 million uprooted in the last nine months, while Human Right Watch said Somalia was the most ignored tragedy in the world. With over three million Somalis in danger of starvation the free world has made a plunder of their help to Somalia. Over a million Somalis have fled their country in the past decade. Kenya alone has over 200,000 Somali refugees. So far this year, about 22,000 have made the dangerous trip across the Gulf of Aden to Yemen. Most foreign aid workers can not work inside Somalia in the moment, to avoid kidnappers and bandits who see foreigners as valuable for their potential ransom. The Somali officials that replace the foreigners are vulnerable to threats from warlords, who want to steal aid for resale, or simply kidnap the officials and extract a large ransom from the aid agency.

On 20 October 2008, with support from the Swedish Government represented by Gunilla Carlsson, Minister for International Development Co-operation, a preparatory meeting for the international Somalia donors conference was held in Stockholm, leading to a United Nations and World Bank planned international fund-raising conference in early 2009 to seek more financial assistance for Somalia for the implementation of a recovery programme.

The network of the Seafarers Assistance Programme helped significantly in most sea-jack cases. Your support counts too.

Please consider to contribute to the work of the SAP, ECOP-marine or Ecoterra Intl. and donate to the defense fund.

Contact us for details concerning project-sponsorship or donations via e-mail: ecotrust@ecoterra.net

Kindly note that all the information above is distributed under and is subject to a license under the Creative Commons Attribution.

To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/uk/

Pls cite Ecoterra Intl. - www.ecoterra-international.org as source for onward publications, where no other source is quoted.

Press Contacts:

EA Seafarers Assistance Programme

SAP Media Officer








Nairobi Node



53rd Update 2008-11-16 18:35:57 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.

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 53 - 1252 h into the FAINA Crisis - Update Summary

Efforts for a peaceful release continued, but the now one and a half month long stand-off concerning Ukrainian MV FAINA is not yet solved, though intensive negotiations have continued and both sides are striving to finalize the modalities of the safe release of crew and vessel. The logistics of the safe release could not yet be finalized, but further supplies did reach the people on board.

News from other abducted ships -----

Local contacts confirmed again that the crew on FV TIAN YU 8, the Chinese fishing vessel arrested by Somalis for alleged illegal fishing and carrying of ivory, is said to be well. The procedures will be known once the captors have made a final decision how and where the case will handled and tried. The vessel is said to be along the southern Somali coast.

MT STOLT VALOR, which was already reported released, has reached safe waters and is steaming with all crew well to the nearest port, while the Indian stealth warship is on alert and guarding. Japan-based Central Marine company, owner of MT Stolt Valor was appreciative of the government and seafarer's union for their support. Stolt Valor was released at 0350 hrs, local time, on Sunday. "We will like to thank the Government of India, the maritime authorities concerned and associations, the seafarer's union and above all the hijacked seafarer's families for being supportive and instilling faith in us," Central Maritime stated in a press release issued on Sunday.

A Japanese cargo ship reported as sea-jacked yesterday evening 96 miles east of Yemen's port city of Aden has been identified as the Panama flagged MT CHEMSTAR VENUS. The tanker has a crew of 23 sailors and her crew members are composed of 17 Filipinos and 5 Koreans. Seoul's foreign ministry confirmed the abduction. The agreement between the manager Iino Marine Service Co Ltd and the All-Japan Seamen's Union hopefully will contribute to decisive negotiations and a fast release. This latest incident came as Seoul was laying plans to send a 4,500-ton destroyer loaded with missiles and other weaponry to protect its shipping in the Gulf of Aden, spokesman Yonhap said.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Esteban Conejos Jr. has confirmed reports from Nairobi that three Filipino seamen are among the 24 crewmen of the Chinese fishing vessel Tianyu 8, which was hijacked by Somali pirates off the east of the Somalian coast. "All crewmen were unharmed," said Conejos, in charge of migrant workers' concerns, citing a report from the Philippine Embassy in Nairobi, on Sunday. "The Department of Foreign Affairs has instructed the Philippine Embassies Beijing and Nairobi to coordinate with the Chinese government and ship owners, and the international maritime authorities in efforts to secure the safe release of the crew and the vessel," said Conejos.

The secretary general of the Yemen Fishermen's Union, Ali Hassan Buhaiderhas, called on the coastguards and international forces to ensure the release of a Yemeni fishing vessel MSV AL-ZAEEMAHA along with 33 fishermen aboard, which was allegedly seized off Socotra Island last Wednesday. Five of its crew-members have been brought in the meantime to shore at an area east of Boosaaso in Puntland.

NATO along with ships and aircraft as well as other vessels from several NATO-independent nations have formed an armada deployed in the region around the Horn of Africa to protect commercial shipping, though they are not under one command. Since the inception of NATO's "Operation Allied Provider", however, the number of attacks on and factual abductions of merchants ships have actually increased and an escalation in brutality in the actions can be observed on both sides.

Russia's navy says one of its frigates has repelled a pirate attack on a Saudi ship in the Gulf of Aden. The navy says the guided-missile frigate Neustrashimy was guarding three cargo ships when it received a distress signal from the Saudi ship RABIGH on Saturday. The Saudi-flagged vessel belongs to Saudi ARAMCO. Russian navy spokesman Capt. Igor Dygalo says today the frigate sailed immediately toward the Rabigh, which had been approached by several speedboats with pirates on board. He says the frigate sent up a helicopter and the attack was repelled.

With the latest capture and release still at least 15 foreign vessels are observed on our actual case-list, while several other cases of ships, which disappeared without trace or information, are still being investigated.

Other related news --------

Countries bordering the Red Sea will meet in Egypt this coming week for talks on the rampant piracy in the region, Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr Al-Kurbi said. "Countries bordering the Red Sea have been invited to meet on Nov. 20 in Cairo to discuss the security of the Red Sea," Kurbi said, adding that the meeting was called by both Egypt and Yemen. On Nov. 10, Kurbi complained that the heavy deployment of multinational naval forces in the Gulf of Aden to combat piracy could pose a threat to Arab security. "The intensive multinational military presence in the southern outlet of the Red Sea is worrying," Saba state news agency quoted him as saying. Kurbi warned that such a heavy foreign presence endangers "Arab national security" and could lead to an "internationalization" of the Red Sea that he said "was proposed in the past by Israel but faced an Arab rejection." Kurbi did not identify the countries invited to attend the Cairo talks.

While today four people were killed in renewed fighting in Mogadishu, Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf has admitted in Nairobi/Kenya that Islamist insurgents now control most of the country and raised the prospect his transitional government could completely collapse. Islamist fighters have been slowly advancing on the capital Mogadishu, raising the stakes in their two-year rebellion and undermining fragile U.N.-brokered peace talks to end 17 years of chaos in the Horn of Africa nation. As when they controlled the capital in 2006, the Islamists are again providing much-needed security in many areas but are unpopular with many moderate Muslims in Somalia for also imposing fundamentalist practices.

Special feature -------

Pirate-Fishing in the Indian Ocean

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is the daily game in Somali waters -

WTN - 16. November 2008

A Chinese long-line fishing vessel with 24 crew, allegedly seized with tuna and ivory on board off the coast of Somalia, made it into the headlines this week, but many more industrial fishing ventures are going on in Somali waters unabated and obviously now at least partly protected by an international armada of warships. While the Chinese-flagged FV TIAN YU 8 most likely will face a court procedure, maybe in front of the newly established Islamic court in Kismaayo in the South of Somalia's Indian Ocean coast, 2000 km away in the North of Somalia the 33 men strong crew of a Yemeni fishing vessel MSV ALZAEEMAH is being held partly in Puntland's coastal area east of Boosaaso and partly on the ship, which was seized off Socotra island.

Information reaching Mombassa indicates that currently also FV ROBERTO (now allegedly owned by an Italian group linked to ITTICA SPA) is fishing illegally from Kenya into the Kismaayo fishing grounds, while NATO, CTF 150 as well as navies from India and Russia have pledged to the United Nations to secure the Somali waters from all forms of piracy, following three UN Security Council resolutions.

Piracy is obviously not only committed by Somali pirates attacking merchant ships and taking them hostage but also by fishing fleets from foreign nations illegally reaping off the marine wealth from the Somali seas. Other activities outlawed by the United Nations Common Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) include the dumping of toxic or nuclear waste and as a matter of fact any dumping at sea.

Somali has been without a central government since 1991, and much of the territory has since then been subject to serious civil strife, weapons proliferation and illegal fishing. Based on UNCLOS no legal fishing licence can be issued to any foreign industrial fishing activity in Somali waters. But for the last 12 years especially Mombassa based fishing trawlers have been illegally fishing inside the 200 nm Somali EEZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) as well as even in Somali territorial waters contrary to Somali national law, contrary to UNCLOS and contrary to Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) instruments, including the regulations of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC).

While, in addition to many unregistered and uncontrolled vessels, the over 255 vessel strong armada of registered European fishing vessels, which hunt the valuable tuna in the Indian ocean, often venture into Somali waters, semi-industrial trawlers target the shallow water prawns in Somalia and land on average around 800 metric tons annually only from one area at the rich grounds around the mouth of the river Juba, north of Kismaayo. The total yearly loss is unknown. A loot mainly for export, which sums to a whole-sale market value of nearly a million dollar. Most of these fishing trawlers are said to be operated or at least organized from Kenya through companies like Basta & Sons as well as East African Seafood.

Artisanal Somali fishermen have blamed the prawn trawlers from Kenya, Italy and other nations for the serious decline of the prawn population and the diminishing stocks of the valuable and highly priced crustaceans while causing great destruction to the marine environment by using illegal fishing methods. The daily illegal harvesting and the dumping of tonnes of by-catch are listed as a key concern. Likewise the trawlers, which officially are forbidden in Kenyan waters and the international long-liners add to the ruthless exploitation of Somalia's only valuable natural resource with sustainable income generation possibilities, if it would not be destroyed totally.

Environmentalists decry specifically that the illegal and indiscriminate prawn trawling and fishing activities are causing increased mortalities of the sea turtles, the dolphins and the rare, red-listed Dugongs (Dugong dugon). While in Kenya the Dugong population has been already almost completely wiped out, Somalia still has one of the last viable populations on the eastern African Indian Ocean coast. If illegal fishing activities are not stopped immediately also the last Dugong population of Southern Somalia will perish.

The link between illegal fishing, smuggling activities and the Somali warlords is obvious and has been documented over many years by environmental groups and the United Nations. But cross-border interests of wealthy Kenyan-Somali as well as Kenyan businessmen with highest office connections have so far not been stopped by the Kenya government. While every aircraft flying from Kenya to Somalia or coming to Kenya from Somalia has to have seriously scrutinized permissions from the Kenya government, the trafficking of contraband on ships including illegally harvested marine products, drugs and guns as well as people goes unnoticed and uncontrolled. The arrested Chinese long-liner is said now to even have been found with illegal ivory on board - most likely deriving from Kenya.

The exploiters themselves have clearly demarcated territories in the Somali seas: To avoid conflict of interest among themselves Basta & Sons usually operates around GobWeyn near the fertile Juba River mouth while ships linked with East African Seafood operate near and around Marka, Baraawa (Brawa) and on and off in clandestine co-operation with Thai companies along the Boosaaso fishing grounds in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland.

The trawlers operated by Basta and Sons include the following fishing vessels: FV Andrea, FV Helena, FV Venture II, FV Vega and FV Roberto (now with ITTICA) and those operated by East African Seafood include: FV Alpha Manyara, FV Alpha Serengeti, FV Alpha Amboseli, FV Ashkay, FV Angler, FV Jackpot, FV Challenger, FV Victoria 5 and FV Victoria 6, and FV Victoria 7. The former Russian fishing vessels Helena and Roberta (formerly Horizon 1 and 2) were wrestled from their original Leningrad owner, who operated through a clandestine Austrian company, in a joint sting operation between Somali "pirates", who held these vessels captive, and the Italian group based in Mombassa.

The markets in Mombassa and Nairobi are flooded with canned tuna fish from Somalia, which goes by brand names like OMAR, HILWA, BARI, ALABASTA, all falsely marked as "Produce of Thailand", while the Tuna fish in the cans is coming from Somali waters and it is even partly canned in Somalia. Years back the Somalis were proud to sell it under original brand names like "LAS KOREY", standing for a Russian 1973 built fish-factory at the coastal town of Las Korey in Warsangeli Land, which was revived some eight years ago. But the strong business interests at the target market choose the trade to continue in a more covered operation, involving Thai contractors in Boosasso, who pay local militia to guard their interests. Few years ago, when the Thailand's Premier Thaksin Sinuwat - now wanted by an international arrest warrant - whose visa for the UK just were cancelled, hat started his links with Kenyan businessmen, who even tried to lure President Kibaki into a shady deal exporting the country's wildlife to a nightlife-zoo in Thailand, the seeds for the covered Thai fish produce sales ripped from Somali waters were planted.

Realizing that their activities have not gone unnoticed any longer, ITTICA (linked to Basta & Sons) have now applied for import and export licences from the Kenya government. But even an import-licence would not make an at least controversially obtained, if not outright stolen good legally clean. East African Seafood is associated with the Mombassa based Alpha group of companies, which is also notorious for selling undersized squid (even advertised as "Baby-Squid") in Kenyan supermarkets and overseas and for causing every year the death of an uncountable number of sea-turtles and dolphins in their operations. Turtle- and Dolphin-safe fishing methods have never been applied in the waters of Eastern Africa. The proprietors of Alpha group are comprised of Indian and Italian businessmen, while Basta & Sons is an Italian family company.

As the activities of these two fishing companies in Somalia are carried out in serious violation of UNCLOS, Somali fishing communities, national as well as international marine and environmental organizations and the seafarers organizations call upon the government of Kenya to take appropriate action and urge the European Union to keep their fishing vessels away from the Somali waters until a proper governance is established again and sound management practices have been implemented.

Asked, why consumers can not play a role and could be motivated to only buy from fishing companies, which operate by the rules, a member of the Kenya Marine Forum on condition of anonymity stated: "At the moment we don't know of any clean fishing company in Kenya, which could be recommended, because whenever someone starts up and plays by the rules, the company is closed down miraculously shortly thereafter. Artisanal fishermen can only just live from their meager catch and the local fishing co-operatives have no chance against the business-tycoons, who can fill their pockets from the riches of neighbouring Somalia, because they can buy officials and protection all the way up in Kenya and all the way down in Somalia. "And they play hardball," he whispers "like in Italy", where even the government has admitted now that already 6% of the overall economy is owned by the Mafia, who seems to be the only group not affected by credit-crunch and recession.

The marine protection consortium of national and international organizations also strongly believes that cutting off Somali Warlords' economic lifelines and the interdiction of the gray and amoral world of illegal fishing, arms and people trafficking will help to bring the warlords to the negotiating tables.

Source:Ocnus.net 2008

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