Somalia has the longest coastline (approximately 3,333 km) of African mainland countries. The fishery resources within Somalia’s waters are significant, with an estimated sustainable potential in the order of 550,000 MT per year for pelagic fish stocks.
The Somalia’s marine fisheries sector has the potential to improve the national economy in terms of food security, employment and foreign exchange earnings. However, marine fishery dominates in the overall sector, while the inland fisheries and aquaculture make minor contributions, or are even absent in some territories.
Fishery in Somalia is mainly concentrated in artisanal, semi- industrial and foreign license fleet. For most of the territories in the area, the fishing industry is predominantly small scale and artisanal, employing traditional gears, methods and vessels. One of the most important roles of fisheries in Somalia is the employment opportunities which the sector provides for more than 200,000 of people who are directly and indirectaly employed in marine capture fisheries, boat building, equipment repair, fish processing, and other ancillary activities.
Fish consumption in Somalia is one of the lowest in Africa, at about 3.1 kilograms per capita although it is rising. Coastal populations have also always eaten fresh fish. In recent decades, increased urbanization and returning diaspora members with newly acquired preferences have fueled rapid growth in domestic demand for fresh fish, albeit from a very low base.
On the other hand, decades of severe civil war and unrest devastated the nation’s fisheries infrastructure and caused environmental degradation to many indigenous marine species. In addition; Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, has been a severe stress both for domestic and industrial fishing. It was estimated that approximately 700 foreign flagged trawlers were engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in and around Somali waters. A potentially higher percentage of fish are being caught from Somalia’s uncontrolled and unmonitored waters each year. Thus, due to poor or ineffective monitoring, controlling and surveillance (MCS) system; great amount of fish stock is in danger and marine ecosystem degraded. The Somali Fisheries Law provides a comprehensive legal framework that governs the development, management and conservation of the country’s fisheries and aquatic resources.
However, fulfilling these in sustainable manners cannot be undertaken efficiently unless declares the state policy of achieving food security through a regulatory system that provides mandates and guidelines for long-term sustainable use of resources, considering as well the welfare of those involved in the sector.
Therefore, SONERREC’s objectives are poverty alleviation, social equity, food security, rational use of resources, people empowerment and sustainable development. Priorities of this sector include protection of fishery and aquatic resources, optimal utilization of existing resources, maintenance of ecological balance and quality of environment, and improving and rationalizing the domestic market.