3,025 km
842,014 km2

The Somali Current is an ocean boundary current that runs along the coast of Somalia and Oman in the Western Indian Ocean and is analogous to the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean. This current is heavily influenced by the monsoons and is the only major upwelling system that occurs on a western boundary of an ocean. The water that is upwelled by the current merges with another upwelling system, creating one of the most productive ecosystems in the ocean. The waters around Somalia support a range of priority coastal and seabirds such as the Socotra Cormorant (VU), White-eyed Gull (NT), Jouanin's Petrel (NT), Crab Plover (LC), Roseate Tern (LC) and Bridled Tern (LC). The ultimate cause of most of the threats to seabirds is a lack of stable government in the country which means there is no legislation regarding biodiversity protection and existing laws are not enforced, in addition the magnitude of many direct threats to biodiversity are unknown and thus cannot be addressed. Regional priorities for the designation of marine IBAs in Somalia include: Jasiira Ceebaad, Jasiira lagoon, Jasiira Sacaada Diin and Jasiira Maydh.

Key threats to seabirds in the Somalia include:
o Oil pollution
o Overfishing and bycatch
o Conversion of coastal habitats for uses such as: agriculture, aquaculture, port/harbour expansion and urban development
o Invasive species

National priorities
o Develop conservation policies for protection of the high seas beyond the EEZ
o Better cooperation with other West Indian Ocean countries on biosecurity to tackle the threat of invasive species
o Develop, alongside neighbouring countries, a set of guidelines for the environmental impact assessment for oil and gas exploration and other developments in the coastal and marine environment
o Better enforce laws and develop procedures to deal with oil pollution from shipping
o Move towards muti-species management and place a stronger focus on ecosystem based approaches to fishing management as well as strengthening the Compliance, Monitoring and Surveillance systems
o Develop research into the economic value of marine ecosystem services in the West Indian Ocean.

Government's support/relevant policy
In Somalia the area 1km inland from the HWM outwards is defined as a coastal zone. Somalia is a Contracting Party of the Nairobi Convention for the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Eastern African Region which covers the coastal environment and EEZ of Somalia. As part of the Convention Somalia agreed to the Protocol Concerning Protected Areas and Wild Fauna and Flora in the Eastern African Region. The Protocol lists species which are protected under the convention and urges Somalia and other Contracting Parties to Please see policy tab for list of agreements that this country is party to.

Petrels and shearwaters

Gulls and terns
Ducks, geese and swans

IUCN Red List Status

2 (126th)
7% (133rd)

The numbers in brackets refer to the country's rank when compared to other countries and territories globally.

Fishpool, L.D.C. & Evans, M.I. (eds). 2001. Important Bird Areas in Africa and related islands: priority sites for conservation. Pisces Publications and Birdlife International (Birdlife Conservation Series 11). Newbury and Cambridge. 1144pp

Somalia at a glance

Land area

637,657 km2

BirdLife Partner



Total number of birds 570
Globally threatened birds 20
Country endemics 8

Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas

Number of IBAs 24
Total IBA area 49,639 km2
IBA area as % of land area 8%

Endemic Bird Areas

Number of EBAs 6

Recommended Citation
BirdLife International (2023) Country profile: Somalia. Downloaded from on 05/10/2023.