President of Somalia “puts the world on notice”

Mogadishu, 01 May 2013: The President of the Federal Government of Somalia, H.E. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud made a visit to a fish factory in Mogadishu, to highlight the need for Somalia to exploit its own natural resources and encourage those businesses who are investing and creating jobs for young Somalis. The Minister of Natural Resources, Abdirizak Omar Mohamed, accompanied the President.

In a recorded speech presented to the international community in New York today, the President has “put the world on notice” over illegal fishing, illegal waste dumping and the disregard for Somalia’s territorial waters.

The President said that the government will stand up for its people and demand that the international community formally recognize its territorial waters under international maritime law, and helps Somalia to protect them, so that highly lucrative fish and oil and gas assets can begin to generate revenues for the country and the people.

The President was delighted to visit a small part of Somalia’s regenerating fishing industry and thanked the Somali Fishing Company for establishing this mini factory and encouraged them to set an example for the generation of sustainable and profitable jobs.

The Somali National Fishing Company, which works throughout South and Central of Somalia, started up in February 2012, by Director, Ibrahim Mohamed Hassan and benefits around 20,000 families and takes fish from around a thousand small boats. The factory processes Groupers & Snappers, King Fish, Swordfish, Tuna Fish and Lobster for export.

The President emphasized the urgent need for countries and rogue vessels to stop illegal fishing and toxic waste dumping and to bring to justice those responsible. The President re-iterated that the best solution for this menace is to build a Somali Coast Guard, so that they can protect their waters. But that while security capacity is improving, the international vessels already patrolling the coast of Somalia should be tasked to protect Somalia’s waters and enforce maritime law.

On the occasion of the 1st May, the President congratulated the factory workers for their hard-work, resilience and patience. The President thanked Somali laborers for their nationalism and for working under such difficult conditions. The President said that the government will do every thing it can to improve conditions for workers and asked private firms to ensure that their workers receive full rights and protection, so that they can produce more to help the country.


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Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am honoured to be with you via VTC and to address you on Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. We are determined to further strengthen our friendship with the International Community.

I wish to thank Ms Donna Hopkins, your Chairman, for inviting me to address you on this occasion. I would have liked to attend this meeting but due to the preparation for the upcoming London Conference my attendance was impossible.

As you know, Somalia’s assets include maritime living and non-living resources such as fish, and oil and gas. Somalia has been conservatively estimated to be capable of providing sustainable annual catches of 200,000 tons of fish. Our recovery as a State will depend to a great degree on how we protect this from exploitation by others. By utilizing this revenue we will be able to rebuild our country.

Under the Kampala Process, the Federal Government of Somalia has begun to lay down the National Maritime Strategy and based on this, we hope to provide the framework for the capacity building programmes that will allow us to develop and fully exploit these resources.

We now have a mechanism that points the way forward on technical issues where we co-operate outside politics for the greater good of the people that we serve.

The Security Council and the International Community have recently been urging Somalia to clarify our maritime zones in relation to the UNCLOS Treaty that we signed in 1982.

I am happy to announce that we have an existing 1988 Law that puts us fully in compliance with the UNCLOS Treaty we signed in 1982 and was ratified by the former Somali Government in February 1989. We have now done this again through the Kampala Process. Now Somalia is in the process of clarifying its maritime zones.

This law gives legal effect to a 12nm territorial sea, a 24nm contiguous zone and a 200nm Exclusive Economic Zone. We will shortly submit this clarification to the UNSG through our Permanent Mission in New York. We are aware that we must also table with some coordinates, our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

I put the world on notice that the time for exploiting Somali waters is over. Illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, dumping toxic waste in our waters and using our maritime areas for other criminal activities must stop.

Illegal fishing trawlers have been using prohibited fishing equipment like drag nets, traps and trawler nets to fish for an array of seafood found in Somali waters such as tuna, sardines, mackerel, lobsters and sharks.

Only in 2005, the FAO report estimated that 700 foreign flagged trawlers were engaged in and around Somali waters. In 2002 alone, the University of British Columbia estimated that 30,000 tons of fish were taken from Somali waters by vessels with foreign flags.

I expect the international community to immediately respect our waters, and respect the fact that they have a legal and moral responsibility to make sure those foreign vessels stop illegal fishing and dumping waste in our waters.

I also expect the international Naval Forces that are currently fighting pirates to assist us in patrolling our EEZ and reinforcing our Marine Security Units safeguarding our marine resources, until we have the capacity to do so by ourselves.

The strategy we are now developing requires capacity building across Somalia to develop our governance structures, ports, human resources and the safety and security of our maritime domain. This will require a significant investment.

Since we lack the expertise to do this on our own, we welcome the international community to support us in this endeavour. However, this must be on our own terms and in a Somali led process. We recommend that the many donors and organisations coordinate their activity with our Federal Government.

In addition, we recognize that maritime resource management and security is the responsibility of the Somali Federal Government. To that end, we will appoint an entity such as a Somali Maritime Agency. Therefore, the international community can have an initial institution contact that will faithfully represent all our Government needs and requirements for that purpose.

As the Somali Government has clarified our maritime zones 20 years ago, we need an effective Coast Guard to police our shores and territorial waters, whilst using modern technology and existing naval forces to police our licensed fishing activity.

We do, however, need to develop our own capacity to police all of our sovereign marine space.

I would further like to stress that we are willing to discourage those who are engaged in piracy and other illegal activities along our shores. We are also willing to offer a viable alternative to our coastal and port areas by re-establishing our traditional industries and exports so as to make our fishing fleets viable. Our ports, their infrastructure and management systems need a major overhaul and the control of corruption in order to become competitive.

Somalia has significant oil and gas resources which over the coming years need to be explored, developed and exploited.

I commend the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia and its 5 working groups. I also encourage them to come up with a sustainable way to safeguard our marine resources and the safety of international vessels. Similarly, I recommend you to have the right Somali representation on all your Working Groups and to stress and involve Somali ownership.

The Federal Government of Somalia is blessed with more than 3000 km of coastline. There are abundant resources within and below our waters. These resources belong to the Somali People and will contribute to our national recovery and sustained prosperity.

The maritime strategy we have developed will lay out on how we intend to provide security for our resources to protect them for the prosperity of our future generations. We are grateful to the international community and ask for your continued devoted assistance with this courageous endeavour.

In conclusion, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for giving me the opportunity to address you on piracy in our waters.

Thank you.


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