A Yemen-owned fishing vessel has sank off the coast of Somalia’s Puntland autonomy state, with efforts to rescue crew members going on, authorities have said.
The Al-Amal trawler — a commercial fishing vessel with North Korean flag — with 34 crew members from Yemen, Kenya, Indonesia and Vietnam sunk on Wednesday evening in an area which is some 5-miles from the former pirate stronghold of Eyl, said Abdirizak Mohammed Dirir, Puntland’s Director of Anti-piracy agency.
He added that the ship was illegally doing fishing activities in Somalia waters since last year and had been granted a ‘’false license’’.
Puntland’s Marine Forces managed to reach the scene after few hours, with the coastguard investigating reasons behind the sinking of the vessel.
Little is known about the situation of the 34 crew members. Rescue efforts are still carried out by the Puntland coastguard.
Somalia has the longest coastline in Africa with 3,330 KM. For decades, foreign trawlers from Europe and other parts of the world have traveled to Somalia waters to take what they can without permission or licenses.
They use efficient mechanical equipment, taking massive numbers of fish stocks. It is estimated that Somalia looses more than $200 million per year because of these foreign trawlers.
Puntland is battling to curb illegal fishing, which is threatening fishing stocks and lives of hundreds of local fishermen.