Fisheries:Increasing the contribution of small-scale fisherfolk

 Since the start of the Somali civil war and the subsequent collapse of the state in 1991, the country's 3,330 km (2,000 miles) of coastline- the longest in Africa- remains the country's most untapped resource.

Domestic fresh fish consumption is limited to coastal areas because of poor infrastructure, which has restricted access to fish for a large portion of the population. This is also coupled with the lack of familiarity with fish, seasonality of supply and a tradition of meat-eating among the Somali communities. While traditional tastes and lack of consumer education programs to promote fish consumption have confined the market to certain coastal areas, the shortage of meat experienced particularly during the recurring droughts has diverted some demand towards fish, especially among low income groups like internally displaced people (IDP).

Somalia's fisheries sector lacks key equipment such as jetties and fishing boats. Lack of research and training opportunities for fishing communities and the absence of a regulatory framework for the industry and serious limitations in the cold chain compound the problem further.

Sustainability in Fisheries

FAO’s mission is to facilitate and secure the long-term sustainable development and utilization of the Somalia’s fisheries and aquaculture. FAO is acutely aware of the fundamental social and economic role played by these two sectors in:

  1. Achieving global and national sustainable food security.
  2. Providing self and paid employment for fishing and aquaculture related communities as a means of alleviating poverty in these fishing communities and stemming rural/urban drift.
  3. Contributing to national and international trade.
  4. Generating national income. Read more

Using local fishermen to generate knowledge

 Due to the decades of civil strife and political upheaval, the state of Somalia was brought to its knees. With very few of its systems left functional, successive governments have found it difficult to govern the country. Lack of proper and up-to-date systems, funds and capacity have compounded the situation further.

Somalia has one of the longest coastlines in Africa- 3330km long- but its fisheries sectors is one of the least- developed with an average annual GDP of 1%. Fishing is mostly on a small-scale level with implements comprising of simple nets, lines and small boats. There is also no data on the fishing operations of the small scale fleet throughout the Somali coast. This has made it possible for activities such as piracy and illegal fishing to thrive in the waters off the Horn of Africa region. Availability of such information would enable the local administration to improve the understanding of the fishing livelihoods for Fisheries Management purposes while providing useful information to the antipiracy forces.

As part of its mandate in filling crucial information gaps, the Food and Agriculture Organization with the support of the European Union, has undertaken an exercise to register 3108 out of the estimated 6500 fishermen who operate off the shores of Puntland. The exercise which was done through a biometrics system, encapsulates vital personal information of each fisherman, including photographs and fingerprints. This information will then be used to develop special identity cards which will be carried by the fishermen while at sea. It will also act as a critical database for the Ministry of Fisheries, security and anti-piracy forces (both local and international) and local fishermen associations as they gather data on the exact number and location of fisherfolk in the area.

As part of the registration exercise, FAO has:

  • Provided the Ministry with the necessary software for registering the fishermen.
  • Identified and trained focal points within the ministry.
  • Provided the financial and supervisory support for the entire period.

For more information on the registration exercise, please read more here.