Sea Pirates … Robbing Our Marine Wealth [Archives:2002/02/Reportage]

January 7 2002

Jalal Al-Sharaabi
Yemen Times
Many political observers confirm that the demarcation of the Yemeni maritime borders with its neighboring countries still needs lots of time till its detailed particulars become much clearer.
According to a reliable source, random and unregulated investments with high production capacity have drastically affected Yemen’s sea wealth, particularly in the Red Sea. The utilization of illegal fishing means is another problem facing our marine wealth and has substantially reduced our fish reserve. Unlicensed boats is undoubtedly the major risk since these kind of boats do not come under government control.
The random fishing of some boats coming from Egypt and Eritrea has resulted in many clashes between the workers on those boats and Yemeni fishermen. The Eritrean Ambassador to Yemen, Mr. Mohammed Othman Redo, said there was no sea-related problems between his country and Yemen. He added, in a statement to the Yemen Times, that “The two countries have reached an agreement formula to regulate conventional fishing in the Red Sea. Redo also pointed out that the foundation of a joint fishing company would top the agenda of the upcoming days, adding that unsolved issues were related to the demarcation of the maritime borders that paralleled to the Saudi frontiers.
Mohammed Saleh Shamlan, Governor of Hudeida, told the Yemen Times that there were 5000 foreign fishing boats in Hudeida. He maintained that detaining fishermen who appeared in the territorial waters of both Yemen and Eritrea was a direct result of misunderstanding the maritime borders.
An official at the Oceanography Center in Hudeida said: “Pirates who work for international fishing companies or even Yemen fishermen usually use small-holed fishing nets, and randomly fish shrimps, as well. The shrimp reserve does not exceed 800 to 1500 tons per year. He added that the issuance of permits without sufficient knowledge of the real sea productivity and carrying out explosions had sharply reduced the sea wealth in the Red Sea.
A person working for a fishing company operating in Hanish archipelago told the Yemen Times that they practiced sea pirating normally and that they even entered the depth of Yemeni territorial waters. A source at the General Corporation for Services & Fish Marketing, said that halting the issuance of permits was a top priority for the Corporation and that it had held several seminars for this end.
Fishers in Khokha said despite the fact that the foundation stone for the Japanese Project was laid in 1998 totaling US$ 7 million it had not so far been implemented. Earlier the Minister of Fish pointed out that funds earmarked for the project had been spent on other related projects, adding that the ministry would raise new funds for the project so as to carry it out in the future. The Legal Advisor to the President of the Republic, Hussein al-Jaishi has warned of a border conflict that may erupt between Yemen and Djibouti and called for promptly reaching an agreement with this country before it turns to be a source of conflict.