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Rehabilitating the fisheries sector in Somalia

FAO Fisheries coordinator Andrew Read speaks with Somali technicians about the FAD deployment

After years of conflict in Somalia, the fisheries sector in the country requires investment and capacity building to generate income and enhance food security for the communities along the country’s 3,300-km coastline and for fishing communities in riverine areas that are dependent on fish for their livelihoods and nutritional needs.

In Somalia today, over one million people face severe food insecurity, while an estimated 307,800 children under the age of five are acutely malnourished, according to FAO data. Sustainable fisheries can serve a key role tackling food insecurity and malnutrition in the country, as well as generating rural employment and building resilience of fishing communities.

In partnership with Norway, Japan, Switzerland and the European Union, FAO has a holistic fisheries programme to rebuild and strengthen the sector in Somalia. Below are some of the ongoing activities managed from FAO Somalia and aimed at strengthening fisheries management, and conservation and enhancing fish consumption and livelihoods for small-scale fishers and their families in the country:

With support from Japan, Switzerland and the EU, FAO deployed 25 fish-aggregating devices (FADs) along the Somali coast

Fish-aggregating devices launched along the Somali coastline

With support from Japan, Switzerland and the EU, FAO deployed 25 fish-aggregating devices (FADs) along the Somali coast in November and December 2015.

Charles Kilgour, FAO Fisheries Expert explains more about these devices and how they work. “FADS are a deep-water mooring, which works by being out there in the ocean and attracting fish, primarily oceanic fish like tuna that are migrating through the area.

This gives the fishermen time to access these fish when they’re moving through that location.”

This accompanying infographic illustrates how these FADs work.

In the past, Somali fishermen had to search for fish like tuna, travelling long distances in rickety, unsafe boats to do so. The FADs concentrate fish around them, allowing fishermen to find them more easily, a development that is easier, safer, and more cost-effective than searching the open ocean.

In the past, Somali fishermen had to search for fish like tuna,by travelling long distances in rickety, unsafe boats. The FADs concentrate fish around them, allowing fishermen to find them more easily, a development that is easier, safer, and more cost-effective than searching the open ocean
In Somalia today, where over one million people face severe food insecurity, fish is crucial for the livelihoods and the food security needs of coastal communities
Landings of tuna through the use of new FADs in Hawiye benefits Somali fishermen who do not have to chase the migrating tunas in unsafe boats

Somali Federal Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources Said Jama Mohamed believes that these “fish aggregating devices will help the fishers of Somalia and will place greater emphasis on the fisheries sector, particularly artisanal fisheries. This kind of technology is very new to Somalia, and the local fishermen are keen to adopt this.”

On-the-ground training is being held with local fishers and fishing cooperatives to ensure that the FADs are fully understood by the fishermen, can be well-maintained by fishing communities and support sustainable fisheries management. Community work was commenced well before deployment, with the Community and Ministry identifying the best sites. 

FAO Country Representative for Somalia Richard Trenchard agrees that these FADs can help stimulate longer-term development  to support these communities. "As well as expanding the FADs programme to other areas, we will be working with the ministries and the fishing communities to attract further investment for ice machines, cold storage and processing facilities, improved landing sites and, of course, better roads to bring the new sustainable supply of fresh fish to markets as quickly as possible." 

FAO’s Fisheries coordinator in Somalia, Andy Read, reports on an early success after the launch of the FADs in the coastal community of Cadale (number 6 on the accompanying map). “We’re pleased to report that the local fishers in Cadale caught 32 tuna during their first days of fishing soon after the FAD deployment.”

The coastal fishing communities at the side of the FAD in Hawaiye (Number 4 on the accompanying map) also reported excellent catches in recent days, as shown by the accompanying photos. Small-scale fishermen caught tuna fish, king fish, tuna yellow fin and mackerel, allowing fishermen to earn between $2-3 US per kilo for their landings, a good income for Somali fishermen.

See the Deployment of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) video here:

The first new design vessel being tested in Somali waters in the Bossaso Harbour after undergoing sea trials. It is named Joorj, named after our colleague Jorge Torrens, the FAO Fisheries officer who died in Somaliland in April 2015

Fleet renewal programme

A Norwegian-funded component of the fisheries programme developed with FAO has focused on the need to build better and safer vessels for small-scale Somali fishermen, thereby replacing the unsafe boats currently being used by the majority of coastal fishers, that are also fuel inefficient and often result in fish becoming spoilt after capture.

The first two new  designs – 7-meters and 10-meters – have been completed and have passed rigorous sea trials. Boat building is currently taking place in Mogadishu, Berbera and Bossaso. During 2016, construction activities will expand to Hobyo and Eyl.

According to FAO’s Fisheries coordinator in Somalia, Andy Read, “We’ve been extremely pleased to see progress on this Fleet renewal programme. It is especially heartening to see that the majority of vessel building training is now being carried out by Somali ‘graduates’ of our initial training programmes. We purposely selected a wide range of candidates from across Somalia to attend our training, and were fortunate to be able to select from among the best of those. It’s crucial that we ensure that Somalis are leading the efforts to build quality vessels in Somalia, that will be competively priced and enable private sector operators to successfully take over the work we have started.”

Related to this work, FAO has also constructed  additional vessels under contract with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Somaliland Development Fund. These  vessels are also being built to fully meet FAO safety specifications. According to Read “When we worked with Somali fishermen with these vessels, they were amazed. The fishermen are confident that these boats are far safer than those they have been using, and that they won’t sink.”

Fishermen in the coastal town of Hawiye have reported impressive catches in recent days after using their new FAD

Ratification of the Port State Measures Agreement

In November 2015, Somalia became the 14th party to ratify the Port State Measures Agreement, an important instrument for combating illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. According to Matthew Camilleri, FAO Fishery Liaison Officer  “Somalia’s accession to the Port State Measures Agreement is the direct result of the Norwegian-funded capacity building Port State Measures workshop held last year in Sri Lanka.” The Somali government, in attendance at the regional workshop, worked closely with FAO to follow up on the process through the Somali government and meeting all FAO procedures, resulting in official ratification two months ago.

Currently, 18 parties have ratified the Port State Measures Agreement. At the twenty-fifth ratification – something FAO is hopeful to witness in 2016 – the international treaty will enter into force.

Additional fisheries activities for FAO Somalia

Other programme components are also underway, including work to encourage fish consumption and to promote safe techniques for fish handling, including fish drying, creating a use for surplus fish that would otherwise spoil quickly in the 45˚C temperatures regularly encountered in north Somalia.  

Additionally, a project is underway for national vessel registration projects and the registration of fishermen, who will be provided with official fishermen identification cards. Under this project, fishermen have already been registered in Puntland, Somaliland and Galmadug. 2016 will see additional expansion to other regions.

FAO Somalia is fully aware that strengthening the fisheries sector can have major, tangible impacts on the livelihoods and nutritional needs of vulnerable Somali communities. FAO Somalia will continue to work alongside its partners on these and additional projects to rehabilitate and strengthen Somali fisheries management and conservation. 

We look forward to bringing you additional updates about ongoing activities on these pages.

Catches through the new FAD off the Somail coast in Hawiye can net the fishermen $2-3 US per kilo, good income for these coastal community fishermen and their families

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