The lower court in Bossaso, about 1,500 northeast of Mogadishu, imposed $100,000 fines on the five boats said to belong to Iranian fishermen.
The fines are payable within 45 days.
“If they fail to pay, the boats will be confiscated by the authority,” said Mr Ahmed Aden Sandhere, the court’s chief judge.
Each of the five skippers was fined $5,000.
“If the skippers fail to meet the fine terms, they will serve jail terms instead,” added the official.
The Iranian boat crew members were each fined $2,000, while their 12 Somali escorts, who were seized together with them, were each fined $1,000.
The court also ordered the fish on the captured boats and the arms in their possession handed over to the Puntland authorities.
On April 24, the coast guards of Puntland announced the capture of 78 illegal Iranian fishermen in the region’s waters.
The commander of Puntland’s coast guards, Mr Abdirizak Dirie Farah, stated that his force confronted foreign fishermen operating on the eastern territories of Sanaag region along the Gulf of Aden.
He added that his force acted on a tip off from the inhabitants of Las Qorey, about 1,600km northeast of Mogadishu.
Mr Farah confirmed that the fishing boats were owned and operated by Iranians.
“Our coast guards faced some resistance when armed men on board the boats fired,” Mr Farah told the media.
“We sustained no casualties,” he added.
“We could not ignore the complaints of the local people.”
The coast guard officer stated that those who fired at his force were 12 Somali men recruited by the Iranians to protect their illegal activities.
“We also seized the 12 Somalis protecting the unlawful activities,” remarked the officer.
The successful coast guards’ operation was praised by the Puntland’s Deputy minister for Fishing and Marine Resources, Mr Muse Gelle Yusuf.
“You did a good job in tackling criminal activities and protected our resources,” remarked Mr Yusuf.
He added that his ministry would closely collaborate with the force.
In December last year, Puntland officers announced their awareness of foreigners together with some Somali protectors trespassing into the authority’s waters in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden and promised to act.
Coastal communities in Somalia always insist that suspected illegal fishing and dumping of waste in the waters were responsible for the proliferation of piracy.
Source: Africa Review
Xafiiska Wararka Midnimo, firstname.lastname@example.org