Somalia has the longest coastline of continental Africa, approximately 3,333 km extending from the western passage of the Gulf of Aden to the Indian ocean up to the border with Kenya. The country therefore has a very substantive Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), estimated at 825,052 square kilometres covering one of the richest fishing grounds in the region. Furthermore, Somalia’s Large Marine Ecosystem (LME) has one of the strongest upwelling systems in the world creating one of the most productive ecosystems in the Indian ocean.
The sector has a significant potential to contribute to Somalia’s economic development and poverty reduction. Seasonal variations related to the southwest and northeast monsoons support a wide variety of marine ecosystems and a high level of diversity of fish along Somalia’s coast. Between March and October, the warm southwest monsoon pushes surface waters northeast and forms the Somali current, the fastest open ocean current in the world, with an average speed of 3.5 meters per second. These seasonal currents provide optimal conditions for both demersal and pelagic migratory species, especially tuna, for which this area is among the most productive in the world. These upwellings support a variety of concentrations of small pelagic fish, potential prey of scombroids, which have been the basis for limited coastal fisheries for many hundreds of years and had already generated strong interest from industrial fishing before the civil war.