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Impact Of Piracy On Tuna Boats Affects Catches

The coastguard of Puntland – which considers itself an autonomous state and region within Somalia, - says it has arrested two illegal fishing vessels. Reports speak of one Korean and one Japanese tuna vessels.

The Spanish associations of fishing vessels that target tuna in the Indian Ocean are demanding that the European bloc extend its anti-piracy operations and control zone to the south-east of Somalia for added fleet protection.

Somali sources are saying the Problem is that Spain does not respect the Somali EEZ, Spanish owned vessels have been poaching in Somali waters for years and that many Spanish owned vessel (around 200) operate under
a flag of convenience, which Spain feels not responsible to discipline
.
According to the Spanish Fishing Confederation (CEPESCA), the 50 European tuna fishing vessels are taking refuge in the Mozambique channel under threat of pirate attacks, which have shifted south to areas that include Seychelles’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

In light of the new situation, CEPESCA Secretary General Javier Garat has asked the Secretary of State for the European Union (EU), Diego Lopez Garrido, to shift the operational range of the Atalanta Operation to the south and east of Somalia, in order to protect the tuna fishing fleet besieged by pirates, who have rerouted to the south-east.

Leaders from the National Association of Freezer Tuna Vessel Owners (ANABAC) and the Big Frozen Tuna Vessels Producers Association (OPAGAC) have also sent written requests to the Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs for the establishment of a secondary Atalanta Operation command centre in Mahe, Seychelles, or Mombasa, Kenya, that would bolster protection of tuna fishing vessels from Spain and the EU that operate off southern Somalia.

OPAGAC managing director Julio Moron backed Spain’s request for the modification of protection coverage offered by the Atalanta Operation, which was launched by the EU to keep up defence manoeuvres of merchant ships that cross the Gulf of Aden against pirate attacks.

“[The EU fishing fleet] is now neglected, after the displacement of the pirates to the very zone where they operate,” affirmed CEPESCA in a press release.

Meanwhile, ANABAC managing director Jose Angel Angulo emphasised that the situation for vessels has worsened in the last few weeks. Pirates followed them to the south of the equator, in the EEZ of the Seychelles, next to the Comoros Islands and in front of the coast of Kenya and Tanzania, to more than 500 nautical miles (1,000 kilometres) off the Somali coast, he explained.

The Community tuna fishing fleet – now totalling about 50 vessels – has been cut by 20 per cent over the last two years due to the threat of piracy.

“CEPESCA recognises the efforts of the Spanish Government and its role in the defence of the fishing fleet against pirate attacks and hopes that the Community authorities will grasp the problem the fleet is facing, and trusts the situation can improve so that safety can be guaranteed to the crew and serious mishaps, which nobody wants to see happen, can be avoided,” the industry association stated.