April 14, 2009
Somalia's Coast Guard?
This morning comes the news that Somalis have captured three more vessels. But are the captors pirates or a militia coast guard?
One vessel, MV Irene E. M. was merely transiting the Gulf of Aden, an innocent passage protected by custom and international law (e.g. the UN Law of the Sea Treaty - LOST). Innocent passage may only be denied under strict restraints.
Its captors are assumed to be pirates.
Two vessels are Egyptian fishing boats inside Soamlia's 200 mile exclusive fishing zone, protected by the same LOST. Both Egypt and Somalia are signatories, Egypt # 9 and Somalia # 40.
Under the treaty, the captors are a civil coast guard defending Somalia's fishing rights and the Egyptians are poachers.
This is why the Navy suggested to President Obama that the US should help Somalia create an effective coast guard, probably with US advisers aboard their vessels as trainers.