Danish authorities are working on an initiative that they hope will see Somali pirates exchange their Kalashnikovs for fishing rods.
As large trawler tankers have withdrawn from waters off the Horn of Africa because of the ever-present threat of hijacking, a task-force has noted a potentially lucrative business prospect in the area caused by an increase in fish stocks.
“We know there’s money in it,” Development Consultant Knud Vilby, one of the initiative-takers of the project, told Politiken. “Over the past decade, Tanzania has built up a veritable export boom in good edible fish from Lake Victoria. These are caught in the traditional manner from small dugouts and passed on to a filleting factory on land. Then flown to Europe in large Russian transport aircraft and sold as popular – and expensive – edible fish.”
The project organisers are due to investigate possible financing for the scheme after recently meeting representatives from Denmark’s Somalia Diaspora Organisation, the Refugee Council, the Foreign Ministry and the Shipowners’ Association, as well as the Defence Ministry.
Former Save the Children Fund employee Jakob Johansen said they plan to buy or lease a trawler from Denmark or the Faroe Islands. “We will try to copy the experience from Greenland in which local fishermen sail to a factory trawler and sell their fish,” he told Politiken.
“The factory trawlers have a production area with space for 120 local employees and freezing capacity of up to 30 containers which can be loaded on to a ship and exported to Europe, Asia or the Gulf where fish prices are much higher,” he added.
“The idea is that exporting the fish must be an attractive solution for the local fishermen in the project, so that cash in hand makes them choose fishing instead of piracy. At the same time you can demonstrate alternatives to piracy and the possibility of stability and growth,” Johansen said.