MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – At least 9 people died after 17 fishing boats capsized off the Indian Ocean coast of Ras Kiyamboni in southern Somalia during poor weather conditions, Jubaland minister of fisheries said on Thursday, in one of the country’s worst-ever accidents at sea.
Twelve people were rescued sustaining injuries after the accident near the town of Ras Kiyamboni in the Lower Juba region, said Ibrahim Abdi Hassan, Somalia’s Jubaland minister of fisheries.
Over the past few days, the region saw strong winds at sea that almost crippled life. Residents depend on fishing for consumption and also supply to other towns including the Somalia town of Kismayo.
Dozens of boats gathered off the coast of Ras Kiyamboni for fishing during a stormy season, with authorities warning fishermen not to go to sea in fear of strong winds.
Jubaland minister of fisheries said most of the deaths were reported from Ras Kiyamboni, whose residents heavily depend on fishing for consumption and cash, adding that heavy rains also worsened storms at sea.
“Casualties are 9 deaths, 12 injuries and 17 boats and their equipment destroyed by strong winds during rough seas” the minister said speaking to local media, adding that fishermen were earlier taught not to go to the coast to save their lives and equipment from accidents during rough seas that start on June every year.
These accidents have come hours after Somalia’s government warned its citizens of raising vigilance due to predicted heavy rains, floods and strong winds in the southern regions. Flush floods are feared to hit the regions situated along the Juba and Shabelle Rivers where waters are feared to have drastic impact on the country’s agricultural productivity.
Several fishermen died when boat capsized off the coast of Mogadishu a few months ago. Local authorities said the accident happened due to poor weather conditions.
Sea accidents are common place in Somalia due to lack of training for the fishermen who rush to the seas during poor weather conditions that cost their lives.
According to estimates, the fishery sector provides nearly 10% of Somalia’s annual GDP. But the sector has been poorly developed with fishermen using old technology, thus insufficiently supplying to market demands.
Foreign trawlers illegally fish in the waters of the Horn of Africa nation that has considerably discouraged Somali fishermen and diminished fish supply in the local markets. Somali fishermen complain of attacks carried out against them by foreign warships and trawler vessels with no efforts by the government to help them improve their business.
How foreign warships and trawler vessels impacted local fish supplies?
More recently, fishermen across the country have been expressing concern over intimidation and violent attacks by warships in Somalia waters that are part of international anti-piracy forces designed to thwart off attacks on commercial ships using the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.
Many youths across the county were arrested by foreign naval forces fishing off the coasts of Somalia, who are currently incarcerated in overseas prisons on charges involving piracy.
Fish supplies to local markets have been diminishing over the years with many fishermen quitting the business due to fear from attacks by foreign warships and trawler vessels. In many parts of the country, fish meat is more expensive than camel meat, which has also significantly reduced its demand.
Somali government has recently introduced a new bill on war against piracy which is currently being deliberated by parliament, with many MPs describing the bill as one bolstered by foreign governments to legalize their attacks against local fishermen.
The bill yet waiting for the approval of parliament increased public concerns over government’s tendency toward foreign nations in the fight against Somali youths fishing off their country’s coasts.
The Somali federal government earlier accused Iranian vessels of illegally fishing in its waters without any license, sending a stern message that they will face consequences.
Yemeni and other foreign trawler vessels were captured by Somaliland and Puntland coastguards while illegally fishing off the coasts of these regions. Yet no foreign citizen or boat was brought to justice for illegal fishing. The country has not yet introduced bills that can deal with individuals found in such crimes.
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