Towards sustainable tuna resources in Somalia


Mogadishu-Victoria Mahé

FAO and partners support new member of the IOTC

 Somalia has become the latest nation to join the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), an intergovernmental fisheries management body mandated to manage the tuna and tuna like species of the Indian Ocean and its associated impacted ecosystem.

The Horn of Africa nation, with one of the longest coastal lines joins global IOTC membership with over 30 nations to promote cooperation among members with a view to ensuring, through appropriate management, the conservation and optimum utilization of stocks covered by the organization and encouraging sustainable development of fisheries based on such stocks. 

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization facilitated Somalia admission into the IOTC through its mandate to develop and protect the world’s fisheries resources. FAO’s Assistant Director-General for the Africa region, Bukar Tijani hailed the move as a milestone. 

“Admission of Somalia into the IOTC is a great step in ensuring sustainability of tuna species in the Indian Ocean but also a bold step to completely eliminate piracy which has plagued ocean since 2009,” said Bukar. 

Joining IOTC was an important step for Somalia which, among others, will enable Somalia to benefit from foreign tuna fleets operating under license in its EEZ, to develop its own fishing fleet in the future and contribute to the sustainability of the tuna resources. In addition, IOTC is in the process of developing a quota allocation criteria, and becoming a member ensures that Somalia will be included in future discussions on this important issue..

’’This is also a special occasion for all us, as the IOTC this year, celebrates its 18th year since coming into force with a new member’s acceptance to join, last May - the Federal Republic of Somalia. We are grateful to FAO and the Seychelles for their role in this very positive development’’, said Indian Ocean Tuna Commission’s Executive Secretary, Mr. Rondolph Payet. During a recent session, the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission "IOTC" discussed its pertinent issues including piracy off the coast of Somalia. Despite a drop in pirate attacks in 2012, commercial and fishing vessels in the western Indian Ocean remain a real threat. The IOTC Commission continues to be deeply concerned by the acts of piracy, on merchant shipping and legitimate fishing activities in the western part of the IOTC area of competence subject to international laws and regulations and where their activities are monitored by IOTC members in accordance with its management measures.

Somalia is expected to continue as an active member of the IOTC and will participate in programmed meetings, trainings and workshops initiated by the Commission and will provide regular and detailed reports of national activities related to Indian Ocean tuna fisheries. Compliance with the existing Conservation and Management Measures is also an important requirement of membership, and is assessed annually. Activities are currently being initiated by FAO in Somalia, and other partners, to enable Somalia to strengthen capacity in this direction. In a bid to develop Somali fisheries, FAO is also working to build capacity of Somali fisheries through, training of fishermen and institutions, equipment distribution and advocacy. 

The Commission recognised the severe impact of piracy acts on humanitarian, commercial and fishing vessels off the coast of Somalia and noted that the range of the attacks extended towards almost all of the western Indian Ocean, notably toward Kenya and Seychelles, with attacks being reported in their respective EEZ. IOTC members include Australia, Belize, China Peoples' Republic, Comoros, Eritrea, European Union, France, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Sultanate of Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, United Kingdom, Vanuatu and Yemen and has its Secretariat at Victoria Mahé, Seychelles. 

The IOTC has the mandate to manage the tuna and tuna like species of the Indian Ocean and its associated impacted ecosystem. It takes binding conservations and management measures on its members. On the occasion of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States that will be held in September 2014 in Apia, Samoa, FAO will renew its appeal to partners to pursue and commit to overseeing the sustainable exploitation of living marine resources, the protection of livelihoods of stakeholders involved in the fisheries sector, and the safeguarding of food security through the provision of fish and fishery-products for current and future generations.