Somali pirates captured Iranian fishing trawler off Qandala

Iranian fishing trawletSomali pirates captured an Iranian fishing trawler to use it as a floating base for further attacks. The ocean-going dhow with a crew of up to 20 was seized by pirates off Qandala in the semi-autonomous Puntland region on May 22 after vessel entered in Puntland’s waters without having license for fishing. Somali pirates frequently cite illegal, unlicensed and unregulated fishing by foreign vessels as a source of grievance. The EU NAVFOR is aware of the media reports and is working with the Somali authorities and counter-piracy forces in the region to verify the attack. The fate of the crew is unknown, but local authorities were informed for the accident and try to get in contacts with the pirates.

“A group of Somali pirates captured an Iranian fishing vessel and are using it as a mother ship in order to hijack (other) ships”, said Ali Shire, the mayor of Haabo in the northern semi-autonomous region of Puntland. “The Iranian fishing vessel does not have a license to fish in Puntland”, added he.

This year has seen an emergence of Somali pirate activities after five years of being dormant. It is believed that the return of illegal fishing vessels into Somali waters has spurred the resurgence of pirate attacks on commercial vessels transiting the region.

Crews have let security procedures slip in recent years and travel far closer to pirate-infested shores than authorities recommend. The pirate gangs launch small, fast skiffs from bases on shore to try hijack vessels.