Source: NATO Shipping Centre
NATO Shipping Centre (NSC) warns¬†that it is imperative that merchant vessels remain vigilant at all times in transit and/or at anchorage and fully implement protection measures set down in BMP4 across the whole HRA. Small craft conducting legitimate activities such as fishing are present in much of the¬†HRA and may be difficult to distinguish from pirates.
As the Horn of Africa/Indian Ocean Region enters the transition period, or inter-monsoon, with fishing activity at its height in the region and subsequently sightings of possible suspicious dhows and skiffs continue to be noted, NSC provides standing guidance relating to fishing activity in the HRA, specifically around the Gulf of Aden, into the Red Sea and off the Oman coast into the Gulf of Oman. The guidance is provided in order to clarify the intricacies of fishing in the HRA for the better understanding of merchant shipping transiting the region.
The guidance covers important factors including details on the size of fishing fleets for Yemen and the Sultanate of Oman, which includes over 9,000 vessels registered in Yemen and nearly 19,000 vessels registered in Oman. The seasonal variations of fishing in the region, and even the fact that Yemeni skiffs do not fish on Fridays are included.
Republic of Yemen
Artisanal Fishing Pattern
Artisanal fishing is extensive off the Yemeni coast with 50,000-60,000 fishermen employed. It follows two main patterns, day fishing by small traditional costal skiffs, and fishing dhows accompanied by skiffs for periods of up to 20 days or longer.
During the day skiffs will look for pods of dolphins as an indication of fish, once sighted the skiffs will sprint to the location in order to surround the shoal.¬†¬†Their actions can therefore appear irregular and erratic.
Some fishermen have been victims of piracy and will on occasions carry weapons for self protection.¬†There have been reports of fishermen firing weapons into the air, trying to make an MV change course in order to protect their fishing gear.
Sultanate of Oman
Oman‚Äôs fishery is largely for personal consumption or export to countries such as Jordan and landlocked African countries. The Sultanate of Oman regulates fishing tightly with rules such as minimum distance between boats, time a boat can fish one area, separation of commercial and private fishing areas and protection of species.
General information on fishing in the High Risk Area
- Small scale traditional fishing (artisanal fishing) is extensive throughout the HRA.
- Some fishermen have been victims of piracy.
- Fishermen often carry weapons for self protection.
- Fishermen fire weapons into the air to make a MV change course and protect their fishing gear.
Day Fishing Skiffs:
- Small traditional coastal skiffs
- Leave at sunrise and return at dusk.
- Self sufficient for the duration.
- Operate in large numbers up to 40nm from land.
- Traditional vessels range from small 4-8m boats with single outboard engines, to 9-14m boats with 2 x outboard engines.
- Dhows accompanied by skiffs for periods of up to 20 days or longer.
- Use skiffs to deploy gear by day, the skiffs then return to the dhow and are taken in tow.
- During the day, skiffs will look for pods of dolphins as an indication of fish, once sighted the skiffs will sprint to the location in order to surround the shool.
- Skiffs will chase fish in the¬†wake of MVs.
- Actions can sometimes appear irregular and erratic as they follow the fish.
The Fishing Temnplates provide more detailed guidance.