Illegal fishing: Measuring maritime security in sub-Saharan Africa

A new online tool is measuring the impact of crimes such as piracy, illegal fishing and pollution in sub-Saharan Africa, and showing how each country is working to overcome them.

Foreign vessels catch three times more than Somali fishers © Jean-Pierre Larroque/One Earth Future

A first-of-its-kind Stable Seas Maritime Security Index investigates how complex issues like piracy, illegal fishing, human trafficking, and other crimes, intersect to create a uniquely insecure maritime environment. The index, developed by the NGO, One Earth Future (OEF), is the first comprehensive attempt to map and measure the unique combination of threats sub-Saharan African countries face, show how each is overcoming these problems, and identify what challenges they continue to face.

In Somalia, illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing by foreign vessels threaten security and the blue economy. According to Oceans Beyond Piracy, one of the three OEF programmes that developed the tool in partnership with Secure Fisheries and OEF Research, piracy in Somali waters has cost the global economy approximately €23 billion since 2010. In addition, research by Secure Fisheries shows that foreign vessels catch three times more fish than Somalis, worth about €254 million per year.

The Stable Seas Maritime Security Index explores the drivers and consequences of piracy and illegal fishing, and highlights the importance of combatting these threats as interconnected activities that must be addressed to achieve sustainable maritime security. The index makes clear that solutions to maritime insecurity must address root causes of instability and involve multilateral efforts between cooperating nations.

“Piracy cannot be eradicated if the issue of illegal fishing is neglected. The issue of illegal fishing cannot be solved if pollution is neglected. The solution to one problem involves taking into account the others,” says Dr Christian Trimua, executive director of the Yaoundé-based Interregional Coordination Center which leads the regional implementation strategy on maritime safety and security in Central and West Africa. The interactive online tool of maps and solutions focusing on the waters off the coast of sub-Saharan Africa was initially launched in October 2017 in Malta.

Sarah Glaser

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) is a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU). CTA operates under the framework of the Cotonou Agreement and is funded by the EU.