[WILD_SEAS] Russian boats held in Somalia for illegal fishing

From: wildnet (wildnet@ecoterra.net)
Date: Tue Mar 13 2001 - 12:51:18 EST


Russian boats held in Somalia for illegal fishing

SOMALIA, 13.March 2001

Two Russian fishing vessels are being held in the port of Kismayo, 500
km
south of Mogadishu. The Russian news agency ITAR-TASS said that they
were
being held by armed groups, in a report monitored by the BBC on 10
March.

It said the joint crew of boats MV-Horizon-1 and MV-Horizon-2 consisted
of
eight Russians and 20 Kenyans. A message had been passed to the Kenya
fishery controlling body saying that the hostages needed urgent medical
aid and food.

A Kismayo resident told IRIN that Somali businessmen were holding the
boats - not the crew - claiming they were owed money by the owners. He
said the owners of the boats were said to owe a combined total of just
over US $100,000. "Most of the Kenyan crew has already left for
Mombassa",
the businessman said from Kismayo. The Russians have continued to stay
on
the boats, and come into Kismayo occasionally.

Representatives of the owners of the fishing boats have been to Kismayo
and made contact with the businessmen. According to the source, they
have
promised to pay an agreed sum. Most of the money the businessmen are
claiming was in the form of fuel, food, water provided, and payment for
consignments of shrimp caught in the Kismayo waters.

The government-owned Kenyan daily 'Kenya Times' said on 9 March that
reports "indicate that the two Belize registered vessels and crew... are
being
held over accusations of illegally fishing in the Somali waters." It
said trawling
in the shallow waters off Kenya has just been outlawed.

International fishing fleets and unscrupulous Somali businessmen have
taken
advantage of the absence of a central government presence in Somalia
since
1991 and exploit the Somali shores, diplomatic sources told IRIN.

"Belize, an unscrupulous state, notoriously providing illegal fishing
ventures
with their "flag of convenience"-registration must now be excluded from
international bodies like the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of
the
United Nations) and the International Whaling Commision (IWC), where the

representatives of Belize usually just vote for the interest of the
biggest
poachers", a spokesman for ECOTERRA Intl. stated. He added "One point
must be clear: The Somali People have a right to defend their waters
against
any of those illegal fishing activities, which are clearly violating the
Common
Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), ratified by the international community in
1998.
The Pirates here are the Russians and their helpers, acting against the
interest
of the Somali People and against international agreements."

All coastal states of Africa should bann these trawlers from their 200nm

Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and their harbours, since these vessels
are
misusing the local facilities to launch their poaching operations along
the whole
Indian Ocean coast, in the Gulf of Aden and in the West-African waters,
COAST WATCH KENYA, a local NGO, demanded in a faxed
statement.

Somalia repeatedly had called to the international community to assist
in
the fight against illegal fishing activities and toxic waste dumping off
their
3.300 km long coast.

SOURCES: IRIN; ECOTERRA Intl.; CWK (Coast Watch Kenya);
                   NDRMC Mogadishu and Kismayo

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