Somalia has the longest coastline (approximately 3,333 km) of African mainland countries, yet the amount of fishing pressure exerted on Somali fishery resources is simply more than what the resources can sustain. Changes in species composition, such as the disappearance of larger-sized demersal species, have begun to occur. Overfishing of both demersal and small pelagic resources probably started in the 1990s. Scientific evidence suggests that the fishing pressure on these resources is likewise excessive. For tunas, in particular, juveniles now comprise a large portion of the typical catch, indicating that fewer individuals get the chance to grow to adult sizes.
Open access to fishery resources is the main reason for their severe depletion. Under open access, practically anyone who wishes to fish may do it when and where they choose. In this situation, a fisher is motivated to fish as much as possible because the fish that he or she does not catch will most likely be caught by someone else. Such unregulated competition ensures that overall fishing pressure eventually becomes excessive.
Somali Natural Resources Research Center (SONRREC) is a non-profit and independent research organisation that was established in 2016 with the objective to manage, protect and shape the country’s natural resources in a sustainable manner by improving the economic well being and eradicate the poverty through evidence-based scientific research, capacity development and consultancy. SONRREC have launched a project to move swiftly towards establishing a policy and regulatory framework that supports the effective and efficient management of the Somalian fisheries sector. The specific aim of this project is to understand better the roles of locally managed marine areas in fisheries conservation at specific demonstration sites.
SFACT is proud to contribute funding to this essential work in Somalia.