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Somaliland Fishery Law


The main law governing fisheries in Somaliland is the Somaliland Fishery Law (Law No: 24 of 27 November 1995). This Law is as as signed by President M H I Egal after it was passed by the House of Representatives. The Law was largely based on the 1985 Law (see below).


A an unofficial English language translation of the Somaliland Fisheries Law 1995 be available on this page shortly. The headings of the Articles are as follows:

    Article 1: Management

    Article 2:  Limits of the territorial waters

    Article 3: Fishing Data

    Article 4: Fishery Development

    Article 5: Prohibitions

    Article 6: Closing  periods of the sea

    Article 7: Fishing licence general provisions

    Article 8:  Anyone granyed fishing licence must

    Article 9: Research

    Article 10: Control and inspection

    Article 11: Penalties

    Article 12: Enforcement

    Article 13: Confiscation of Property

    Article 14: Regulations  

    Article 17: Repeal and coming into force

Article 2 of the Law will be updated  soon as a more detailed Law dealing with the Somaliland Territorial Sea, Contiguous Zone and Exclusive Economic Zone is required. This Law currently addresses, albeit it briefly, the reality that, unlike the 1972 Somali Republic Territorial Sea which   set a 200 nautical mile limit territorial sea was never, in practice, applicable to the Somaliland coast  as  the Gulf of Aden which separates  Somaliland and Yemen is not wide enough for such a claim.  Taking note of these geographical considerations, the Somaliland Fishery Law 1995 indicates in Article 2 that the territorial limits of the Republic will be 12 nautical miles and that Exclusive Economic Zone will be delineated between Somaliland and the Yemen and, in reality is likely to be extend from the coast to 100 nautical miles at its widest and 30 miles at its narrowest. The new Somaliland Law dealing with the Somaliland maritime boundaries (territorial sea, Contiguous Zone and the Exclusive Economic Zone - C&EE Zones) is more likely to mirror the relevant territorial sea and C&EE Zones laws of Yemen and Djibouti which are consistent with UNCLOS and is likely to set the  limits for the three areas as 12, 24 and 200 nautical miles until the latter is delineated between Somaliland and Yemen.  In the meantime, Somaliland shall use a median line from the baseline to establish the Exclusive Economic Zone (which shall also include fishing rights) between Somaliland and Yemen (for more information see the Somaliland Territorial Sea page).

Different delimitation agreements need to be reached with  Djibouti (and in due course, Somalia). Although its current is not clear the pre 1991 Somali Republic has entered into an agreement with the Republic of Djibouti in 1986 about access rights for artisanal fishers. This continuing validity of that agreement will have to be looked at in the light of the Constitutional test (Article 10(1)) for pre 1991 treaties.

For an up to date analysis of the implications of the inconsistency between the 1972 Law and UNCLOS, see: Neumann and T and Salomon T R (2012) Fishing in Troubled Waters - Somalia’s Maritime Zones and the Case for Reinterpretation, ASIL Insights, Volume 16, Issue 9. [ For a summary of the article and its implications for Somaliland,  see The Somaliland Territorial Sea page]

For more information about Somaliland fisheries policy, please see the following UNDP sponsored consultant’s report titled “Feasability Report on the Fisheries Sector in Somaliland - Current Status, Opportunities & Constraints” by Ahmed H. O. Gulaid “ Omane”

Previous Fishery Laws:

The Somaliland 1995 Law is based largely on the Somalia Fishery Law 1985 (Law No: 23 of 30 November 1985) [Somali copy] and the Ministerial Decree on Fishing Vessels (Decree No. 14 of 2 March 1986)  .  For historical purposes, the Somalia Regulation on Guidelines for Fisheries Joint Ventures with Foreign Partners 1985 are reproduced here. Neither of these laws apply to Somaliland. The Puntland region of Somalia has also adopted its own Puntland Fishing Law (in Somali).

It should be noted also that the following articles of the Maritime Code  relate to sea fishing, but most of these provisions are superseded by the 1985 and 1995 Fisheries Laws

  • Article 66: Major and minor fishing activities
  • Article 67: Concessions & Licences
  • Article 68: Concessions for major fishing activities
  • Article 69: Applicability
  • Article 70: Prohibition to fish
  • Article 71: Prohibited fishing means
  • Article 72: Supervision of fishing
  • Article 234: Abusive fishing
  • Article 235: Fishing with prohibited means

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