MOF is responsible for all fishery matters within territorial waters and the EEZ.
The Planning and Research Departments of MOF are responsible for information gathering, analysis, planning, decision-making, allocation of resources, and formulation and enforcement of fishery regulations, always reflecting the need to conserve stocks and promote responsible and sustainable fishery practices.

MOF works with recogized interested parties when establishing fishery exploitation protocols. “Interested parties” are any party that has been accepted by the MOF as having legitimate interest in the living marine resources being managed, and includes fishermen cooperatives and organizations; coastal neighbouring states, conservation-oriented NGOs, local citizens, municipalities, sport fishermen, ecological movements, and indigenous people.

For fishery in international waters and for migrating and straddling stocks, Somalia works within the provisions of LOSC. However problems arise with neighbouring states concerning highly migratory and straddling stocks as no management body has yet been established. These stocks are therefore liable to uncontrolled fishing.

Overview of stocks exploited

Large pelagic fish

These are species of tuna and big mackerel, mainly yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), bigeye tuna (T. obesus), longtail tuna (T. tonggol), bonito (Sarda orientalis), skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis), and Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus commerson). The seasonal variations in abundance are considerable, confirming the oceanic migratory pattern of these species. Within the Indian Ocean region, all tuna and tuna-like species management is under the mandate of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC).

Small pelagic fish species

The dominant species are the Indian oil sardinella (Sardinella longiceps), rainbow sardine (Dussumieria acuta), Scads (Decaptrus spp.), chub mackerel (Scomber japonicus), horse mackerel (Trachurus indicus), and lesser quantities of anchovies (Engraulis japonicus, Stolephorus spp.). The main distribution area of these species are along the northeast coast, although there are limited seasonal migrations into the Bosaso to Ras Asair area. Outside these regions, the small pelagic fish are scattered and there is no basis for fishery. Therefore they are considered local stocks, and their management comes under national jurisdiction.
However, their migrations and that of straddling stocks in and out of the national EEZ are unknown.

Demersal fish species

The demersal fish exploited in Somali waters comprise several hundred species, with the greatest concentrations in the coral reef region from Adale to the Kenyan border. The main commercial species groups include scavengers (Lethrinidae), groupers (Serranidae), snappers (Lutjanidae), grunts (Pomadasyidae), and seabreams (Nemipteridae), lizard fishes (Synodontidae), and goatfishes (Mullidae).

These species make important contributions to the artisanal fisheries all along the Somali coast. They are considered non-migratory local stocks, and are covered by MOF management measures and regulations.

Shark species

Shark plays an important role in the traditional fishery. They are present all along the Somali coast, but are caught mainly off the north coast, although in the southern part of the east coast they often represent 40 percent of the catch.

The principal species groups are hammerheads (Sphyrnidae), grey sharks (Carcharhnidae), mako shark (Lamnidae), houndsharks (Triakidae) and dogfish (Squalidae). They are highly migratory and their migration patterns in the region are unknown. Regionally, non-tuna resources within the Southwest Indian Ocean (SWIO) region will come under the management of the South West Indian Ocean Fishery Commission (SWIOFC) when it is formally established. Although there are few unknown shared stocks of non-tuna resources in the region, there are management difficulties deriving from the increasing transboundary activities by local fishing fleets as a result from local depletion of stocks, coupled with incursions from outside of the region, This all leads to significant illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.


National level

The Government of Somalia aims for the fishery management system include:

a)maximizing net benefits from the fishery resources in national waters through both domestic and foreign fishing activities.
b) maximizing net benefits from other resources, and users of the Somali EEZ (including minerals exploitation);
c)implementing customs and other regulations;
d)collecting information on quantity and value of resources;
e)meeting domestic fishers’ demands (realistic or not) for protection from foreign fisheries;
f)exercising national sovereignty;
g)enhancing navigation, search and rescue services; and
h)protecting the marine environment.

MOF issues fishing licences for foreign fishing vessels, and established management measures as a condition for granting fishing licences. Conditions include reporting requirements, namely:

a) on or prior to departure from the zone;
b) on commencement or cessation of fishing operations;
c) on or prior to entry into national ports;
d) timely position reporting;
e) regular catch and effort reporting; and
f) submission of logbooks and catch reports at the end of each voyage and upon permit expiry.

Enforcement procedures for fishery laws and regulations and MCS requirements and procedures reflect the provisions of LOSC and the International Flag States Convention.
Furthermore, arrested vessels and their crews are to be released promptly on posting of reasonable bond or other security. Penalties include possible imprisonment for second offences (captains face a possible from 3 to 10 years in prison). When foreign vessels are arrested or detained, MOF prompthly notifies the relevant Flag State. Fines imposed for illegal fishing by foreign vessels range from about US$ 100 to more than US$ 2 million. In addition to fines, the Somali courts are empowered to order forfeiture of catch and fishing gear, and the vessel itself if it is a second offence.

International level

IOTC is the international agency responsible for management measures for tuna and other highly migratory stocks that are situated in or migrate in and out of the Indian Ocean. However, Somalia is not yet a member. A serious potential problem in most tuna fisheries is a lack of tradition, and mechanisms for direct effort controls, overall fleet size limitation, and explicit resources allocation, rendering the stocks liable to IUU, overfishing and depletion.

Regional level

SWIOFC should become the regional agency for management decision-making for non-tuna resources in the South West Indian Ocean (SWIO), when it becomes formally established. The SWIOFC Convention defines it objectives as including the formulation and adoption of conservation management measures necessary for ensuring the long-term sustainability of the fishing resources, based on the best scientific evidence available and taking into account the precautionary approach. Measure would include:

a) regulating fishing methods and fishing gear;
b)prescribing permissible catch size or sex for individuals of specified species;
c) regulating the total catch of any species, including the catch of non-target species, and of fishing effort, and, where appropriate, their allocation among contracting parties;
d) establishing open and closed fishing seasons and areas;
e) designating regions and sub-regions;
f) protecting the marine environment;
g) regulating or protecting any species as appropriate;
h) developing rules and procedures for MCS of fishing activities in order to ensure compliance with conservation and management measures adopted on the basis of the Agreement, including systems of verification incorporating observation and inspection; and
i) developing measures to prevent, deter, and eliminate IUU fishing.

However, the SWIOFC is not yet effective. Somalian MCS measures have not recovered since the civil war of 1991, and regionally the mechanisms have not materialized due to lack of interest and disagreements among the Indian Ocean coastal states, distant-water fishing nations, and other with an interest in the matter.

At the regional level, the situation is that the capacity for enforcement of management measures varies significantly among coastal states bordering the South West Indian Ocean. Small island states with relatively short coastlines and manageable sized artisanal fisheries have good systems in place (Seychelles, Mauritius, and Reunion (France)), while eastern African coastal states either have no adequate enforcement system (Somalia), or monitor only part of the coastline (Madagascar, Comoros, Tanzania, Mozambique and Kenya). Hence the hopes expressed in the establishment of SWIOFC.


Roles of institutions entrusted with enforcing management measures

Institutions responsible for enforcing management measures address:

a) the checking and supervision of fishing activity to ensure that national legislation and terms, conditions of access and management measures are observed; and
b) ensuring that resources are not overexploited, poaching is minimized, and management arrangements are implemented.

Roles of major stakeholders in the decision-making process

The roles of the main stakeholders in the management decision-making process are that:

a) they participate in some way in deciding on the objectives of the fishery, the management regime and the concrete measures adopted; and
b) they have certain duties to protect the resource, provide accurate information, and respect the agreed regulations.

In this context, the government enacts in national legislation provisions establishing a duty of care owed by the stakeholders towards the proper use of aquatic living resources, with the possibility of legal liability for breach of duty.

Information flow in support of management decisions

Information is vital for monitoring fisheries to ensure sustainable exploitation of stocks and to protect endangered stocks. Catch locations and effort data come from logbooks, port interviews with fishery officers, onboard observers, radio reporting, and at-sea inspection.

Table 2. The major commercial marine species, crustacean & other species exploited in Somali coastal waters

English Name

Scientific Name





Sphyraena spp.



Rachycentron canadu



Otolithes ruber


Dolphin Fish

Coryphaena spp.



Lethrinus spp.


Frigate Mackerel

Euthynnus affinis



Upeneus spp.



Epinephelus spp.


Hammer Shark

Sphyna zygaena



Liza spp. Valamugil spp.



Numerous species



Istiophorus platypterus



Sardinella spp.


Saw Shark

Pristis pectinata


Skipjack Tuna

Katsuwonus pelamis



Lutjnus spp.


Spanish Mackerel

Scomberomorus commerson



Siganus spp



Xiphias gladius


Tiger Shark

Galeocerdo cuvieri



Carangoides spp.


Wolf Herring

Chirocentrus spp.



Bodianus binulatus


Yellowfin Tuna

Thunnus albacares






Marine Crustaceans Species

Spiny Lobster

Panulirus spp.



Penaeus spp.



Other Species


Sepia spp.



Loligo spp.



Octopodidae spp.



Needed Recommendation Measures

The recent situation in Somalia is disheartening, although some improvements have been made. These need to be continued and solidified. Current new initiatives of compromising political leaders if properly designed and followed through, offer an opportunity for productive changes. The number of rehabilitation and developmental activities that the international donor community can support in the artisinal fishery sector in Somalia are many. However, there have its peculiar needs and problems. Such differences among the zones are due to the different levels of development the industry had achieved prior to the war. Over all, the needs of the fishing sector are considerably high and are not limited simple supply of fishing boats and equipment. The fishing industry in fact achieved relatively high level of development during the '80s some major processing facilities and cold storage were established. To effectuate rapid rehabilitation of artisanal fisheries requires substantial efforts for donation. In fisheries, this requires two. First, board based international benefaction including the development of fisheries projects for procurement of boats, gears, processing plants. Secondly, to initiate instant education for fishermen and other concerned with fisheries (e.g. enforcement personnel, marketers), with the emphasis on particular aspect of technology, management, regulations, etc. Currently, there are no mandates at all levels. Substantially, there are no funds for all, some offices still exist but they are used for other purposes and no personnel. It is recommendation that local state governments should set an advisory commission, consisting of fisheries experts and fisheries education/information-transfer specialists for these appropriate agencies.

Largest segment of the Somalis have realized, that there is a large natural resources beneath their seas and are intent to exploit it. Almost everyone is waiting formation of a federal government and the availability of financial facilities. We believe the incoming government will concentrate on the development of these natural resources, mainly on agricultural production. It is quite obvious that the government will purchase boats, gear, processing plants, ports training and research equipment. To accomplish these projects the government will need the technical know how of companies to expertise. More importantly, the consensus in Somalia is to develop through private sectors not like the previous government whose policy degraded all the natural resources due to highly favor of individualistic. Fisheries management is primarily the management of people. It is exceeding difficult to develop effective management if people are not aware the existing problems, their potential consequences, and possible solutions. Without participation and co-ordination of fishermen, management will be difficult at best, and more likely impossible. At the present there are established channels for dialogues among local state governments to set on structure, this takes care for all necessary measures.

The reviewers do claim that there is a room for integrating the development within the marine fisheries of Somalia. However, the areas worthy of attention are not limited. But more or less, appears to be the room for generating among pelagic or demersal resources, notably, sharks, mackerels, tunas, swordfish, lobster, squid, etc. Ideally, finding international markets with co-operation, co-ordination, and technical assistance donor countries and/or international non-governmental organizations can increase exploitation. It is recommendation that the government agencies be restructured and they revise the way they interact with the fishermen and serve the public. While the fishermen and professionals be involved in resources management with international organizations to advocate to prevent foreign vessels engaged in fishing in Somalia coastal waters or/and other companies which dispose fatal waste products into Somali waters within its EEZ.

It has been identified four levels in the fishery industry of Somalia which are highly linked to one another. Unquestionably, the industry exists, regardless of its development, it is necessary that the fishing community also exists and which is engaged in fishing activities. This constitutes the first level in the industry, i.e. "Production". The followed by "Conservation and Processing", the third one being "Marketing", while fourth level is "Fisheries Experts" who recommend reliable information about the uniqueness of the follow of the process. Whenever a fishing industry exists all four levels described above are developed to some extent, however the degree of sophistication depends on the development status of the industry itself. All these activities are linked to one an other but become more complex and technically demanding the more developed the fishing sector in this particular region. Reliable achievements and commitments for implementing new approaches to the resources are highly recommendable.

Participatory approaches have increased considerably besides a passive role to the people to benefit. All the previous failures lead to the realization to the best measure of development to exploit the abundance of wealth production. In order to qualify to improve the quality of life of poor coastal residents, the small farmers and fishermen, the urban poor and other marginalized people, but the pervasive constraints recovery paradigms (patterns) are expected recently. At the present time, it is necessary to extend our outcry and appeal internationally to find some type of commitment into action programs, which are more practical and appropriate. There have often been European Union member countries, United States and UN and many non governmental organization which in fact worked hard enough to ease our complexity of destruction and still at out side for re-establishing and reorganizing all the lost efforts. Now the technology transfer domination has attained to the oriental countries so we are looking forward for their technical assistance as well.


Anon (1989). The Annual Report Of The Ministry Of Fisheries And Marine Resources, Somalia.

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