The Iranian Flagged Vessels Identified Operating Illegally in Somalia’s EEZ
Increased monitoring of the Somali Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) has revealed the continuing presence of a fleet of unauthorized, Iranian flagged fishing vessels. Approximately 112 Iranian fishing vessels were identified transmitting on automatic identification system transponders from within the Somalia EEZ for 2533 days between January 2019 and 14th April 2020. Authorities said that the actual number would be higher due to the fact that Automatic Identification System could not detect all at once. Preliminary investigations show that 83 AIS net marketers linked to Iran were also sighted, with the ministry insisting that for the past one year, over 192 vessels have been operating illegally inside Somalia and Yemen’s special economic zones.
Somalia’s fisheries minister, Abdullahi Warsame noted that illegal fishing is a threat to Somalia’s food security, economic well being, and sovereignty of the country’s territorial integrity. He said Iran must act in speed and withdraw all the vessels for the sake of harmony. Warsame also asked Iran’s authorities to cooperate adding that illegal fishing on Somalia’s waters was totally unacceptable.”The situation related to the presence of the Iranian fleets in Somalia Waters remain a long-standing concern of the Federal Republic of Somalia,” said Warsame, also adding that Somalia is committed to enhancing mutual diplomatic relations with all countries.
Signals picked by the AIS show the vessels appear to be originating from and using a number of ports in Iran including the Port of Konarak, Ramin and Port Tiyab within the territory of Iran which is common to diplomatic squabbles with other nations. Somalia formally licensed 31 Chinese fishing vessels at a cost of 2.5 million dollars in November 2018 under the new fisheries law. Fishing has been one of the leading foreign income earners for Somalia. The country calls upon Iran to cooperate in addressing the suspected at least 112 Iranian fishing vessels. The information has been shared with the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC). Foreign flagged vessels may only fish in the Somalian Exclusive Economic Zone beyond 24 nautical miles.