19 May 2007 04:14

SOMALIA WATCH

 
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  • Title: [SW News](AFP) Firefight over fish in Somalia waters
  • From:[]
  • Date :[] 14 Jan 2000

Friday, January 14 6:02 PM SGT
Firefight over fish in Somalia waters
MOGADISHU, Jan 14 (AFP)
Officials in Somalia threatened Friday to destroy foreign fishing vessels they accused of shooting at local fisherman and authorities in the waters off the coast of the troubled Horn of Africa state. "Although we do not intend to kill anybody extra-judicially, we will send boats built with anti-aircraft weapons to destroy the fishing vessels," North Mogadishu faction head of the Marine Resources Unit Abdurahman Hussein Koli said. "The last attempt for the second time to arrest the foreign vessels failed on Thursday night, when they fired heavy machine guns (and water canons) into our two speedboats," he added, saying the vessels were operating from Eldher in central Somalia's Galgudud region to Kismayo, 500 kilometres (310 miles) south of Mogadishu. "These aggressive foreign fishing vessels, most of them from Italy, Malaysia and Taiwan, are operating there without permission," Koli said, adding that their crews used illegal methods such as poisoning. Somalia has lacked a central government and a functioning infrastructure since 1991. Its coastal waters, rich in tuna and shellfish, are notorious for piracy and it is not unusual for foreign vessels there to carry weapons. "We have identified them by language after intercepting their radio communication, but we are yet to know which particular companies own the vessels," Koli said, and warned that foreigners caught in Somalia's coastal waters, one of the longest in Africa, "would face harsh punishment." Nairobi-based Italian envoy to Somalia Francesco Sciortino told AFP that he was unaware of Italian commercial fishing activity in Somalian waters and that he had received no reports of the alleged shooting incident. "There used to be (Italians fishing there) but then there were problems, so not any more," he said, adding, however, that it was possible that Italian crews may be on vessels registered in other countries. "We advise people to be very careful, to go fishing in areas where there is reliable, solid administration, which means (the breakaway regions of) Somaliland and Puntland," said Ambassador Sciortino. But even there, officials are "not so in charge of the situation," he added. That fishing vessels would carry heavy weapons on deck "could not be excluded as some vessels come from the east and have to address the problem of piracy," he said, adding that incidents of piracy were reported about every six months.


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