FairFishing – Changing the Somali Mindset From Catching Vessels to Catching Fish

At the height of piracy in the Cape Horn, journalist Jakob Johannsen, Claus Bindslev and international development journalist Knud Vilby began their journey to turn “Somali Pirates into Fishermen”.

There was a paradoxical situation; a hungry population, people longing for jobs, and a sea full of fish.

The solution was simple – Fishing.

A fact-finding mission to Somalia concluded that there was no fishery infrastructure at all in Somaliland. Everything had to be built from scratch and partnering was to be inclusive and anyone interested to cooperate would be welcomed.

FairFishing is a Danish-Somali NGO whose aim is to strengthen local fishery in the Horn of Africa, thereby reducing poverty and helping create local employment and income opportunities.

Piracy and criminality have been an issue along the coastline. Only by addressing its root causes, can it be solved sustainably. FairFishing has played a key role in giving Somali pirates a new lease of life through fishing, by changing the mindset of many from catching vessels to catching fish.

There are over 450 commercial species of fish in Somali waters and yet fish consumption in Somalia was one of the lowest in the world.  When the region constantly suffers severe droughts which kills vast amounts of livestock, – the main food source – the people go hungry – FairFishing is helping to combat food insecurity.

Among young men, the unemployment rate is approximately 60-70%, and half the population is under 18 years old – FairFishing has provided thousands of local jobs.

The FairFishing concept has helped create fishery stations, ice making facilities and cold storage, inland fish markets, training and workshops, business workshops and marketing knowledge and skills, in Somaliland and Puntland.

In an Impact Assessment Report published by Nordic Consulting Group, the average monthly income for boat owners was reported to be USD 264 in 2012 and USD 1,288 in 2018.  In a period of 6 years, their income increased by 487%!  The income of crew in 2012 was USD 152, in 2018 it had increased to USD 470 an increase of 309%!

By 2021, FairFishing is hoping that turnover among Somali fishers, chefs and street kitchen owners will have grown to $10 million, says Bindslev. “My vision is to create peace and business with fish,” he said. “Then show the world we can do good things in very fragile places”.

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