A consortium of Chinese companies has been licensed to fish in Somali waters in what the Fisheries Ministry said was awarded in a transparent process for the first time in three decades.
Fisheries Minister Abdillahi Bidhan signed off 31 Offshore Tuna Licenses Tuesday to FOCA, a consortium of Chinese companies to exploit tuna resources within Somali waters.
“It’s in God’s will that we have today concluded the signing of fish licenses in a transparent manner. Anyone applying for Tuna License must go through the requisite process upon which we will inspect their vessels,” Bidhan said.
The companies paid a total of $1 million for the licenses which now grant them the rights to fish within Somali waters twice a year. To ensure the companies adhere to the terms of the contract including not exploiting other sea resources, the government will deploy own personnel onboard the Chinese vessels.
According to the Fisheries ministry, Somalia has 604 fish species with 420 of these being commercially viable. With an Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.2 million KM2, the country can fetch up to $135 million annually from the sea resources.
Somalia has for many years suffered from illegal fishing owing to lack of capacity to man its waters. A study by scientists in a research programme, Sea Around Us, at the Universities of British Columbia and Western Australia’s Indian Ocean division and the lobby One Earth Future’s Secure Fisheries programme in 2017, noted that up to 2.4 million tonnes of fish have been caught by foreign fleets off Somali waters in the past six decades.