Crime and Piracy in Somalia could be a result of Illegal Fishing

by NikW on November 19, 2015 - 12:58pm

Nikolas Wensing

Robin Roth


November 18th, 2015


            In Somalia, illegal fishing seriously threatens the local people’s way of life. Foreign ships come in during the night, and overfish with highly modern technologies, leaving virtually no fish left for the local Somali fishers. This has resulted in the local people left with almost nothing, as the majority of the populations have been overly reliant on the fisheries. Now there is a fear that piracy and crime will rise once again as it did in the past, due to the desperation felt amongst the local Somalis.

            The presence of illegal fishing first became evident during the 1990s. One woman was telling journalists that she started out learning how to fish from her husband in 1987, but by 1996 she quit. Foreign vessels came in, large ships dwarfing the Somali fishing boats in size, taking everything, and making it impossible for Somalis to share these fishing waters with them. Locals have turned to NATO and the EU for help, but they are only willing to work on fighting piracy, saying that “it would interfere with their mission” if they helped combat illegal fishing. Now many locals are worried that younger men looking for work will end up turning to crime and violence as a means of getting by. One Somali man said he once saw the Al-Shabbab terrorist group recruit around 40 young men to their cause in his area; he believes they resorted to this because they were desperate to make a living. Police in the area also have no power here, as they are not authorized to use weapons or speedboats. This has made it impossible for them to interfere with illegal fishing, given that some illegal vessels have even hired Somalis as armed gunmen to defend against the police.

             The first thing that comes to mind after reading this article is the idea of the staples theory and the staples trap. The Staples Theory suggests that in economies dominated by staples, these staples tend to set the pace for economic growth. A Staples Trap on the other hand is when the group that is reliant on the staple cant get out of it; their over-dependence on the staple essentially means that they are “trapped” and have no choice but to continue to try to rely on it. The fisheries in Somalia are a perfect example of these ideas; the people have continued to rely on the staples resources (the fish), to the point where we see that when they can’t use the fish anymore there is a huge collapse in their economy. The people become unemployed and desperate, and turn to crime because they can longer survive off of this staple resource and have nothing else to really turn to. Something else from class that stuck out to me while readings this article was our discussion about expert knowledge and managerialism. During this discussion in class we spoke about how sometimes the “experts” and those doing research and running tests don’t always know best because they do not listen to the locals. This is something evident in this case, as the government in Somalia, NATO and the EU are not taking local knowledge seriously. Rather than combatting illegal fishing they are combatting piracy and crime. They are ignorant to the fact that piracy and crime are a result of illegal fishing because they are not listening to local knowledge.

Work Cited

1.     Hatcher, Jessica. (2015). Illegal fishing and the return of Somalia’s pirates | Aljazeera. Available at [Accessed November 18, 2015].


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