SOMALIA – The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has handed over 12 fishing vessels with inboard diesel engines to Puntland State authorities in Somalia.

“The vessels are another contribution from the Coastal Communities Against Piracy (CCAP) Project, generously funded by the European Union, which works to develop a vibrant fisheries sector that harnesses the great potential offered by Somalia’s coastline by providing decent employment opportunities young people along the fisheries value chain,” said John Purvis, FAO’s CCAP Project Manager in Somalia.

The boats will be distributed among various fish farmers in the state in an effort to boost their produce for income-generating activities.

“Puntland state is committed to ensuring that these vessels contribute to generating income and opportunities to youth in the coastal communities of Puntland.”

“We thank you FAO and the European Union for their longstanding and continued support to develop our fisheries sector,” said Abdiqani Gelle Mohamed, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, Puntland State of Somalia.

Having the longest coastline in Africa 3,330 km (2,000 miles), Somalia’s fisheries sector still holds a huge potential to be developed.

It is currently estimated to only account for roughly one percent of Somalia’s Gross Domestic Product.

Domestic fresh fish consumption is limited to coastal areas because of poor infrastructure, which has restricted access to fish for a large portion of the population.

This is also coupled with the lack of familiarity with fish, seasonality of supply and a tradition of meat-eating among the Somali communities.

Lack of research and training opportunities for fishing communities and the absence of a regulatory framework for the industry and serious limitations in the cold chain compound the problem further.

As part of its mandate in filling crucial information gaps, FAO with the support of the EU, has undertaken an exercise to register 3108 out of the estimated 6500 fishermen who operate off the shores of Puntland.

This information will then be used to develop special identity cards which will be carried by the fishermen while at sea.

It will also act as a critical database for the Ministry of Fisheries, security and anti-piracy forces (both local and international) and local fishermen associations as they gather data on the exact number and location of fisherfolk in the area.