Pirates keep Yemeni fishermen home

Dec. 29, 2010 at 7:14 AM
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SANAA, Yemen, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- Rampant piracy off the coast of Somalia is creating dramatic problems for communities that depend on fishing, Yemeni officials complained.

Piracy monitoring Web site Ecoterra reported Tuesday the German-owned merchant vessel MV EMS River came under attack by pirates Monday about 175 nautical miles northeast of Salalah. The 5,200-ton cargo ship with a crew of seven Filipinos and one Romanian was on its way to Greece from the United Arab Emirates when it was hijacked.

Fish catches in the region have fallen off from 88,000 tons in 2006 to 26,000 tons in 2009. Omer Gambet, who heads a fisheries union in Yemen, told the United Nations' humanitarian news agency IRIN that complaints have gone unheeded.

"One of the main reasons for the decline is piracy," he said, adding military forces were now demanded in fishing lanes to prevent piracy.

Officials said 10 fishermen were killed by pirates and the threat has caused losses of around $1.5 million since 2009.

Abdullah Sa'aden, who heads a fisheries association, told IRIN fishermen were running out of options.

"(Pirates) have become a real threat to our main source of livelihood," he said. "Fishermen are afraid to go to sea."

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