Somali fishermen have been issued with official ID cards to help distinguish them from pirates, it’s been reported.
At least 2,000 such cards have been handed out to fishermen in the Puntland region of Somalia in the last two months, the Ministry for Fisheries and Marine Resources tells Radio Ergo. One fisherman in Bossasso says he feels less afraid of being mistaken for a pirate when he is out at sea.
“We used to suffer a lot because we have been mistaken often for pirates,” says Muse Abdalla Isse. “We have been mistakenly shot at or arrested by the forces [European Union naval forces in Somali waters].” He says that just days ago he was stopped by an EU naval patrol – but they let him go when he showed them his card.
Isse said he was stopped and held by an EU naval patrol just days ago and was able to show his ID card so he was released. “We can now go anywhere in the sea without being afraid of the Navy forces,” said Isse.
Another fisherman, Abdi Ismail, who said he had been detained by the EU naval forces several times, declared he now had a real identity. “I hope it will give us freedom to fish in our waters, and not to be mistaken for pirates ever again!” Ismail told Radio Ergo.
Officials say about 4,000 fishermen have been registered in the programme, and everyone should receive their identity cards by the end of April.