Fisheries conflict is an underappreciated threat to the stability and health of communities. Declining fish populations, rising demand for seafood, and efforts to reduce illegal fishing are increasing the risk that conflict over fisheries resources will undermine stability and peace. Here, we investigate the frequency, causes, and consequences of fisheries conflict in six countries around the Horn of Africa and East Africa (Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, and Yemen) between 1990 and 2017. Fisheries conflict events were cataloged from news reports, and events were characterized by the date, location, actors, consequences, and drivers of the conflict. We found the rate of fisheries conflict is gradually increasing in the region, with spikes in conflict driven by the arrival of foreign fishing boats or international naval vessels. Conflict was caused primarily by illegal fishing, foreign fishing, weak governance, limits on access to fishing grounds, and criminal activities including piracy. Two-thirds of all conflict events occurred in Kenyan and Somali waters, with areas of high conflict intensity in the Lake Victoria region, near the Somali coastline, and in the southern Red Sea. During this period, 684 fisheries conflict events in the region resulted in over 400 fatalities, nearly 500 injuries, and over 4,000 arrests.
This was originally published on SAGE Publications Ltd: Journal of Peace Research: Table of Contents.