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Author Topic: UN envoy decries illegal fishing, waste dumping off Somalia  (Read 1849 times)

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Offline red_Dragon888

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UN envoy decries illegal fishing, waste dumping off Somalia
« on: March 26, 2010, 08:43:09 PM »
AFP – Jul 25, 2008

http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gVV_gQDsp1m8v7nPcumVc5McYV-Q

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) — The UN special envoy for Somalia on Friday sounded the alarm about rampant illegal fishing and the dumping of toxic waste off the coast of the lawless African nation.

"Because there is no (effective) government, there is so much irregular fishing from European and Asian countries," Ahmedou Ould Abdallah told reporters.

He said he had asked several international non-governmental organizations, including Global Witness, which works to break the links between natural resource exploitation, conflict, corruption, and human rights abuses worldwide, "to trace this illegal fishing, illegal dumping of waste."

"It is a disaster off the Somali coast, a disaster (for) the Somali environment, the Somali population," he added.

Ould Abdallah said the phenomenon helps fuel the endless civil war in Somalia as the illegal fishermen are paying corrupt Somali ministers or warlords for protection or to secure fake licenses.

East African waters, particularly off Somalia, have huge numbers of commercial fish species, including the prized yellowfin tuna.

Foreign trawlers reportedly use prohibited fishing equipment, including nets with very small mesh sizes and sophisticated underwater lighting systems, to lure fish to their traps.

"I am convinced there is dumping of solid waste, chemicals and probably nuclear (waste).... There is no government (control) and there are few people with high moral ground," Ould Abdallah added.

Allegations of waste dumping off Somalia by European companies have been heard for years, according to Somalia watchers. The problem was highlighted in the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami when broken hazardous waste containers washed up on Somali shores.

But world attention has recently focused on piracy off Somalia, which has taken epidemic proportions since the country sank into chaos after warlords ousted the late president Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

Somalia's coastal waters are now considered to be among the most dangerous in the world, with more than 25 ships seized by pirates there last year despite US navy patrols, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

Some Somali pirates have reportedly claimed to be acting as "coastguards" protecting their waters from illegal fishing and dumping of toxic waste.

Ould Abdallah cited the case of a Spanish trawler captured by pirates while illegally fishing for tuna off Somalia in April.

He said payment of a ransom for the release of the crew "was done in a very sophisticated manner" with the pirates arranging by phone "to be paid in Macau."

The Spanish government said in late April that it paid no ransom to secure the release of the crew of the Playa de Bakio after six days of captivity. But Andrew Mwangura of the Kenya chapter of the Seafarers Assistance Program then said a ransom of 1.2 million dollars (768,000 euros) was paid.

On Friday, Estonia urged the European Union to take stronger action against Somali pirates attacking cargo ships bound for Europe, after an Estonian sailor was held hostage for 41 days.

On Sunday pirates seized a 52,000-tonne Japanese vessel and its 21 crew members off the Somali coast.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=I3ba3lnFHik

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Offline red_Dragon888

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Re: UN envoy decries illegal fishing, waste dumping off Somalia
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2010, 08:45:11 PM »
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2008/10/2008109174223218644.html

News Africa 
 
'Toxic waste' behind Somali piracy 
 
 
By Najad Abdullahi
 
 

Some pirates operating off Somalia's coast claim to act as coastguards [GALLO/GETTY]

Somali pirates have accused European firms of dumping toxic waste off the Somali coast and are demanding an $8m ransom for the return of a Ukranian ship they captured, saying the money will go towards cleaning up the waste.

The ransom demand is a means of "reacting to the toxic waste that has been continually dumped on the shores of our country for nearly 20 years", Januna Ali Jama, a spokesman for the pirates, based in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, said.

"The Somali coastline has been destroyed, and we believe this money is nothing compared to the devastation that we have seen on the seas."

The pirates are holding the MV Faina, a Ukrainian ship carrying tanks and military hardware, off Somalia's northern coast.

According to the International Maritime Bureau, 61 attacks by pirates have been reported since the start of the year.

While money is the primary objective of the hijackings, claims of the continued environmental destruction off Somalia's coast have been largely ignored by the regions's maritime authorities.

Dumping allegations

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy for Somalia confirmed to Al Jazeera the world body has "reliable information" that European and Asian companies are dumping toxic waste, including nuclear waste, off the Somali coastline.

"I must stress however, that no government has endorsed this act, and that private companies and individuals acting alone are responsible," he said


 
The pirates are holding the MV Faina off Somalia's northern coast [Reuters]
 
Allegations of the dumping of toxic waste, as well as illegal fishing, have circulated since the early 1990s.

But evidence of such practices literally appeared on the beaches of northern Somalia when the tsunami of 2004 hit the country.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) reported the tsunami had washed up rusting containers of toxic waste on the shores of Puntland.

Nick Nuttall, a UNEP spokesman, told Al Jazeera that when the barrels were smashed open by the force of the waves, the containers exposed a "frightening activity" that has been going on for more than decade.

"Somalia has been used as a dumping ground for hazardous waste starting in the early 1990s, and continuing through the civil war there," he said.

"European companies found it to be very cheap to get rid of the waste, costing as little as $2.50 a tonne, where waste disposal costs in Europe are something like $1000 a tonne.

"And the waste is many different kinds. There is uranium radioactive waste. There is lead, and heavy metals like cadmium and mercury. There is also industrial waste, and there are hospital wastes, chemical wastes – you name it."

Nuttall also said that since the containers came ashore, hundreds of residents have fallen ill, suffering from mouth and abdominal bleeding, skin infections and other ailments.

"We [the UNEP] had planned to do a proper, in-depth scientific assessment on the magnitude of the problem. But because of the high levels of insecurity onshore and off the Somali coast, we are unable to carry out an accurate assessment of the extent of the problem," he said.

However, Ould-Abdallah claims the practice still continues.

"What is most alarming here is that nuclear waste is being dumped. Radioactive uranium waste that is potentially killing Somalis and completely destroying the ocean," he said.

Toxic waste

Ould-Abdallah declined to name which companies are involved in waste dumping, citing legal reasons.

But he did say the practice helps fuel the 18-year-old civil war in Somalia as companies are paying Somali government ministers to dump their waste, or to secure licences and contracts.

"There is no government control ... and there are few people with high moral ground ... [and] yes, people in high positions are being paid off, but because of the fragility of the TFG [Transitional Federal Government], some of these companies now no longer ask the authorities – they simply dump their waste and leave."

Ould-Abdallah said there are ethical questions to be considered because the companies are negotiating contracts with a government that is largely divided along tribal lines.

"How can you negotiate these dealings with a country at war and with a government struggling to remain relevant?"

In 1992, a contract to secure the dumping of toxic waste was made by Swiss and Italian shipping firms Achair Partners and Progresso, with Nur Elmi Osman, a former official appointed to the government of Ali Mahdi Mohamed, one of many militia leaders involved in the ousting of Mohamed Siad Barre, Somalia's former president.

At the request of the Swiss and Italian governments, UNEP investigated the matter.

Both firms had denied entering into any agreement with militia leaders at the beginning of the Somali civil war.

Osman also denied signing any contract.
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=I3ba3lnFHik

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Offline red_Dragon888

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Re: UN envoy decries illegal fishing, waste dumping off Somalia
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2010, 08:45:59 PM »
'Mafia involvement'

However, Mustafa Tolba, the former UNEP executive director, told Al Jazeera that he discovered the firms were set up as fictitious companies by larger industrial firms to dispose of hazardous waste.

"At the time, it felt like we were dealing with the Mafia, or some sort of organised crime group, possibly working with these industrial firms," he said.


 
Nations have found it difficult to tackle
the problem of piracy [AFP]
 
"It was very shady, and quite underground, and I would agree with Ould-Abdallah’s claims that it is still going on... Unfortunately the war has not allowed environmental groups to investigate this fully."

The Italian mafia controls an estimated 30 per cent of Italy's waste disposal companies, including those that deal with toxic waste.

In 1998, Famiglia Cristiana, an Italian weekly magazine, claimed that although most of the waste-dumping took place after the start of the civil war in 1991, the activity actually began as early as 1989 under the Barre government.

Beyond the ethical question of trying to secure a hazardous waste agreement in an unstable country like Somalia, the alleged attempt by Swiss and Italian firms to dump waste in Somalia would violate international treaties to which both countries are signatories.

Legal ramifications

Switzerland and Italy signed and ratified the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, which came into force in 1992.

EU member states, as well as 168 other countries have also signed the agreement.

The convention prohibits waste trade between countries that have signed the convention, as well as countries that have not signed the accord unless a bilateral agreement had been negotiated.

It is also prohibits the shipping of hazardous waste to a war zone.

Abdi Ismail Samatar, professor of Geography at the University of Minnesota, told Al Jazeera that because an international coalition of warships has been deployed to the Gulf of Aden, the alleged dumping of waste must have been observed.

Environmental damage

"If these acts are continuing, then surely they must have been seen by someone involved in maritime operations," he said.

"Is the cargo aimed at a certain destination more important than monitoring illegal activities in the region? Piracy is not the only problem for Somalia, and I think it's irresponsible on the part of the authorities to overlook this issue."

Mohammed Gure, chairman of the Somalia Concern Group, said that the social and environmental consequences will be felt for decades.

"The Somali coastline used to sustain hundreds of thousands of people, as a source of food and livelihoods. Now much of it is almost destroyed, primarily at the hands of these so-called ministers that have sold their nation to fill their own pockets."

Ould-Abdallah said piracy will not prevent waste dumping.

"The intentions of these pirates are not concerned with protecting their environment," he said.

"What is ultimately needed is a functioning, effective government that will get its act together and take control of its affairs."
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=I3ba3lnFHik

“Neither look forward where there is doubt nor backward where there is regret. Look inward and ask not if there is anything o

Offline red_Dragon888

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Re: UN envoy decries illegal fishing, waste dumping off Somalia
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2010, 08:57:00 PM »
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/04/toxic-waste-dumping-illegal-fishing-helping-get-us-into-piracy-mess-in-somalia.php

More on Toxic Waste Dumping & Illegal Fishing Helping Get Us Into a Piracy Mess in Somalia: Some Background Info
by Matthew McDermott, New York, NY  on 04.15.09
Business & Politics
    Buzz up!


A U.S. Navy rescue and assistance team travels to provide humanitarian and medical assistance to the crew of the Taiwanese-flagged fishing trawler Ching Fong Hwa. Photo: Navy.mil

When Brian wrote about the connection between overfishing and piracy in Somalia he got mostly pilloried in the comments. So, I'm going to lead by saying that no one is advocating piracy, or that strong measures shouldn't be taken to prevent it, but failing to look at the origins of the problem will only lead to defeat.

In that light, Amy Goodman from Democracy Now! just did a good interview with Mohamed Abshir Waldo, in which he goes into detail about how toxic dumping and illegal fishing have led to the current situation. Here are some excerpts:

Toxic, Nuclear Waste Dumping Has Happened Since the 70s
Goodman asked Waldo to elaborate on the origins of toxic dumping. For many TreeHugger readers this may well be the first they've heard of this in Somalia,


Well, toxic dumping, industrial waste dumping, nuclear dumping, as you are probably aware and have heard and many people know, for quite some time, in the ’70s mainly, in the ’80s, in the ’90s, there was a lot of waste of all these kinds that companies wanted to get rid of, following very strict environmental rules in their countries. So where else to take but in countries in conflict or weak countries who could not prevent them or who could be bought? So these wastes have been carried to Somalia. It’s been in the papers. It has been reported by media organizations like Al Jazeera, I think, like CNN. Many had reported about the Mafia, Italian Mafia, who admitted it, dumping it in Somalia for quite some time, for quite a long time.

And as we speak now, I heard yesterday, in fact, another vessel was captured in the Gulf of Aden by community—this time not pirates, by the community, when the suspected it, and it was carrying two huge containers, which it dumped into the sea when they saw these people coming to them. They have been apprehended. The vessel had been apprehended. Fortunately, the containers did not sink into the sea, but they are being towed to the coast. And this community has invited the international community to come and investigate this matter. So far, we don’t have action.


Europeans, Chinese, Russians, Koreans, Others All Illegally Fish Somali Waters
Brian gave a good rundown of what how fishing and piracy are connected in this instance, but Mohamed Abshir Waldo lays out who is involved in this illegal fishing,


The countries engaged include practically all of southern Europe, France, Spain, Greece, UK. Nowadays I hear even Norway. There were not many Scandinavians before, but Norwegian fishing now is involved in this, you know, very profitable fishing business. So, there are others, of course. There are Russian. There are Taiwanese. There are Philippines. There are Koreans. There are Chinese. You know, it’s a free-for-all coast.

And to make things worse, we learned that now that the navies and the warships are there; every country is protecting their own illegal fishing piracies—vessels. They have come back. They ran away from the Somali volunteer guards, coast guards, but now they are back. And they are being protected by their navies. In fact, they are coming close to the territorial waters to harass again the fishermen, who no longer have opportunity or possibility to fish on the coast because of the fear of being called pirates and apprehended by the navy, who are at the same time protecting the other side.

So the issue is really a matter of tremendous injustice, international community only attending and talking and coming to the rescue of the—of their interests and not at all considering or looking from the Somalis’ side. This does not mean I am condoning or anyone is condoning piracy or endangering the life of innocent sailors and crews or damaging the property of others, but these people, these fishermen-turned-pirates, had no alternative but to protect themselves, to protect their turf, to—you know, an act of desperation, you might call it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=I3ba3lnFHik

“Neither look forward where there is doubt nor backward where there is regret. Look inward and ask not if there is anything o

Offline red_Dragon888

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Re: UN envoy decries illegal fishing, waste dumping off Somalia
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2010, 09:24:05 PM »
http://www.projectcensored.org/top-stories/articles/3-toxic-waste-behind-somali-pirates/

3. Toxic Waste Behind Somali Pirates
in Top 25 Censored Stories for 2010


Sources:
Al Jazeera English, October 11, 2008
Title: “Toxic waste behind Somali piracy”
Author: Najad Abdullahi

Huffington Post, January 4, 2009
Title: “You are being lied to about pirates”
Author: Johann Hari

WardheerNews, January 8, 2009
Title: “The Two Piracies in Somalia:  Why the World Ignores the Other”
Author: Mohamed Abshir Waldo

Student Researcher:  Christine Wilson
Faculty Evaluator:  Andre Bailey, EOP Advisor
Sonoma State University

The international community has come out in force to condemn and declare war on the Somali fishermen pirates, while discreetly protecting the illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fleets from around the world that have been poaching and dumping toxic waste in Somali waters since the fall of the Somali government eighteen years ago.

In 1991, when the government of Somalia collapsed, foreign interests seized the opportunity to begin looting the country’s food supply and using the country’s unguarded waters as a dumping ground for nuclear and other toxic waste.

According to the High Seas Task Force (HSTF), there were over 800 IUU fishing vessels in Somali waters at one time in 2005, taking advantage of Somalia’s inability to police and control its own waters and fishing grounds. The IUUs poach an estimated $450 million in seafood from Somali waters annually. In so doing, they steal an invaluable protein source from some of the world’s poorest people and ruin the livelihoods of legitimate fishermen.

Allegations of the dumping of toxic waste, as well as illegal fishing, have circulated since the early 1990s, but hard evidence emerged when the tsunami of 2004 hit the country. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) reported that the tsunami washed rusting containers of toxic waste onto the shores of Puntland, northern Somalia.

Nick Nuttall, a UNEP spokesman, told Al Jazeera that when the barrels were smashed open by the force of the waves, the containers exposed a “frightening activity” that had been going on for more than a decade. “Somalia has been used as a dumping ground for hazardous waste starting in the early 1990s, and continuing through the civil war there,” he said. “The waste is many different kinds. There is uranium radioactive waste. There is lead, and heavy metals like cadmium and mercury. There is also industrial waste, and there are hospital wastes, chemical wastes—you name it.”

Nuttall also said that since the containers came ashore, hundreds of residents have fallen ill, suffering from mouth and abdominal bleeding, skin infections and other ailments. “What is most alarming here is that nuclear waste is being dumped. Radioactive uranium waste that is potentially killing Somalis and completely destroying the ocean,” he said.

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy for Somalia, says the practice helps fuel the eighteen-year-old civil war in Somalia, as companies pay Somali government ministers and/or militia leaders to dump their waste. “There is no government control . . . and there are few people with high moral ground . . . yes, people in high positions are being paid off, but because of the fragility of the Transitional Federal Government, some of these companies now no longer ask the authorities—they simply dump their waste and leave.”
In 1992 the countries of the European Union and 168 other countries signed the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal. The convention prohibits waste trade between countries that have signed, as well as countries that have not signed the accord, unless a bilateral agreement had been negotiated. It also prohibits the shipping of hazardous waste to a war zone.

Surprisingly, the UN has disregarded its own findings, and has ignored Somali and international appeals to act on the continued ravaging of the Somali marine resources and dumping of toxic wastes. Violations have also been largely ignored by the region’s maritime authorities.

This is the context from which the men we are calling “pirates” have emerged.

Everyone agrees they were ordinary Somali fishermen who, at first, took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least wage a “tax” on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coast Guard of Somalia.

One of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali, explains that their motive is “to stop illegal fishing and dumping in our waters. . . . We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish, and dump waste, and carry weapons in our seas.”

Author Johann Hari notes that, while none of this makes hostage-taking justifiable, the “pirates” have the overwhelming support of the local population for a reason. The independent Somalia news site WardherNews conducted the best research we have on what ordinary Somalis are thinking. It found that 70 percent “strongly support the piracy as a form of national defense of the country’s territorial waters.”

Instead of taking action to protect the people and waters of Somalia from international transgressions, the UN has responded to the situation by passing aggressive resolutions that entitle and encourage transgressors to wage war on the Somali pirates.

A chorus of calls for tougher international action has resulted in multi-national and unilateral Naval stampede to invade and take control of the Somali waters. The UN Security Council (a number of whose members may have ulterior motives to indirectly protect their illegal fishing fleets in the Somali Seas) passed Resolutions 1816 in June 2008, and 1838 in October 2008, which “call upon States interested in the security of maritime activities to take part actively in the fight against piracy on the high seas off the coast of Somalia, in particular by deploying naval vessels and military aircraft . . .”
Both NATO and the EU have issued orders to the same effect. Russia, Japan, India, Malaysia, Egypt, and Yemen, along with an increasing number of countries have joined the fray.
For years, attempts made to address piracy in the world’s seas through UN resolutions have failed to pass, largely because member nations felt such resolutions would infringe on their sovereignty and security. Countries are unwilling to give up control and patrol of their own waters. UN Resolutions 1816 and 1838, to which a number of West African, Caribbean and South American nations objected, were accordingly tailored to apply to Somalia only. Somalia has no representation at the United Nations strong enough to demand amendments to protect its sovereignty, and Somali civil society objections to the Draft Resolutions—which makes no mention of illegal fishing or hazard waste dumping—were ignored. 


Hari asks, “Do we expect starving Somalians to stand passively on their beaches, paddling in our nuclear waste, and watch us snatch their fish to eat in restaurants in London and Paris and Rome? We didn’t act on those crimes—but when some of the fishermen responded by disrupting the transit-corridor for 20 percent of the world’s oil supply, we begin to shriek about “evil.” If we really want to deal with piracy, we need to stop its root cause—our crimes —before we send in the gun-boats to root out Somalia’s criminals.”

Update by Mohamed Abshir Waldo
The crises of the multiple piracies in Somalia have not diminished since my previous article, “The Two Piracies in Somalia: Why the Word Ignores the Other,” was written in December 2008. All the illegal fishing piracy, the waste dumping piracy and the shipping piracy continue with new zeal. Somali fishermen, turned pirates in reaction to armed foreign marine poachers, have intensified their war against all kinds of ships in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.

On international response, foreign governments, international organizations and mainstream media have been united in demonizing Somalia and described its fishermen as evil men pillaging ships and terrorizing sailors (even though no sailors were harmed). This presentation is lopsided. The media said relatively little on the other piracies of illegal fishing and waste dumping.
The allied navies of the world—fleets of over forty warships from over ten Asian, Arab, and African countries as well as from many NATO and EU member countries—stepped up their hunt for the Somali fishermen pirates, regardless of whether they are actually engaged in piracy or in normal fishing in the Somali waters. Various meetings of the International Contact Group for Somalia (ICGS) in New York, London, Cairo, and Rome continue to underline the demonization of the Somali fishermen and urge further punitive actions without a single mention of the violation of illegal fishing and toxic dumping by vessels from the countries of those sitting in the ICGS and UN forums in judgment of the piracy issue.

At the ICGS Anti-Piracy meeting in Cairo on May 30 2009, Egypt and Italy were two of the loudest countries calling for severe punishment of the Somali fishermen pirates. As the ICGS are meeting in Rome today (June 10, 2009), two Egyptian trawlers full of fish illegally caught in Somali waters and an Italian barge that had been towing two huge tanks suspected of containing toxic or nuclear waste are being held in the Somali coastal town of Las Khorey by the local community, who invited the international experts to come and investigate these cases. So far, the international community has not responded to the Las Khorey community’s invitation.

It should be pointed out that both the IUUs and waste dumping are happening in other African countries. Ivory Coast is a victim of major international toxic dumping.
It is said that acts of piracy are actually acts of desperation, and, as in the case of Somalia, what is one man’s pirate is another man’s Coast Guard.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=I3ba3lnFHik

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