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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Piracy in Somalia

written by: Raunekk • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 12/25/2010

The recent piracy attacks in Somalia have raised several questions in everyone's mind- questions that seem simple, but have difficult answers. This article will try to explain everything you ever wanted to know about piracy activities in Somalia.

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    Piracy in Somalia and pollution at sea – are two gruesome problems facing the world today. Pollution at sea, an extremely grave issue, has been receiving considerable attention from different parts of the world; however, it is the former one that needs immediate and aggregated help.

    The recent increase in piracy activities in the Somali waters has suddenly brought Somalia into the limelight. Many countries, including several international bodies are doing their best to fight against the pirates that are scaring away their merchant ships from using Somali waters. Defense ships with advanced weaponry and navigational equipment’s are continuously made to patrol the Somali waters in order to deter the pirates. However, the result, though favorable, would be a temporary one for the real reason for piracy lies on a different plane. In the following article we will find answers to some of the most prevalent questions that still bother many people around the world about Somalia Piracy.


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    How and Why Did Piracy Begin in Somalia Waters?

    Before Somalia became famous for its piracy activities, it was an upcoming and flourishing fishing hub. However, poverty, hunger, and unemployment thrived in the nation because of the continuous conflicts between the local and government troops. Somalia desperately needed help from other countries to survive. Countries such as Great Britain and West Germany provided aid to develop Somalia’s fishing industry. Because of this, many Somali people entered the fishing business, and most of the catch was exported to other countries, providing the fishing companies good profit. However, as the fishing activities increased, the civil war in the nation also increased, which diverted the aid coming in for the fishing industry toward persecuting the war.

    Moreover, Somalia still doesn’t have a stable government and thus there are no coastal or maritime laws plying in its waters. Other countries saw this misfortune as an opportunity and initiated fishing in Somali waters. Lack of any rules and regulations also made Somali waters a dumping ground for many countries, wherein they could go and easily dump toxic waste and harmful materials without shelling out a single penny from their pockets.

    As a result, both illegal fishing and waste dumping in Somali waters drastically reduced the number of fishes in the region. It was then that the local fishermen decided to protect their resources from foreign infiltration on their own. Piracy in Somalia was thus born.

    Somalia Piracy  

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    Why Ships can’t have Their Own Defense System

    Looking at the recent increase in piracy activities, an obvious question that comes to everyone’s mind is why can’t the ships themselves fight against the skinny pirates? Unfortunately, there are several reasons for this.

    A merchant navy ship, by nature, is just a trading ship with personnel who are not trained in any kind of defensive techniques. Moreover, by law, none of the sailing merchant ships are allowed to carry any kind of weapons onboard. This is mainly done to prevent any kind of mishandling or misuse of the weapons by the crew members.

    Also, the modern pirates are equipped with all the latest machinery and navigational equipment. These weapons are not only expensive but also require special training to use them. The ship owner’s will either have to put experienced people on board or have to train mariners to use these firearms. Both these alternatives are not only expensive, but also pose a certain kind of threat to a ship’s own crew members.

    somali piracy 432  

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    Why Only Somalia has the Piracy Issue

    Poverty and hunger are the root cause of every evil in the world, and that of Somali piracy is no different. People in Somalia are poor, unemployed, devoid of even the most basic needs- enough reasons to provoke them to undertake any kind of activity for procuring a livelihood.

    Apart from this, Somalia doesn’t have a stable government and thus has extremely weak national security. The pirates can easily thrive in this environment with additional help of weapons and high-speed boats from local and international mafia. Moreover, the location of Somalia, which is nearest to one of the busiest sea routes in the world, makes it easy for the pirates to carry out their activities. These are some of the main reasons that make Somalia the hottest piracy hub.

    piracy map  

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    Why can’t Ships see the Pirates Coming?

    Another valid question that comes to everyone’s mind is why can’t the ships see the pirates coming? Are the crew member’s sleeping? Why can’t the ship just speed up and escape the pirates?

    Though all the above mentioned questions sound valid, escaping the pirates is not as easy as it seems. Now though most of the modern ships have highly advanced navigational equipment, the number of personnel monitoring them is very few. With the increase in automation, ship owners have drastically reduced the number of mariners working on board a particular ship. A normal cargo ship today has less than 25 crew members working on it, including the Captain. Out of these, only two of them will be at the bridge, monitoring the radar and other navigational equipment. This makes it difficult to keep a track of each and every thing coming in the vicinity of the ship.

    Moreover, the boats which the pirates use are too small and fast to show on the ship’s radar system. Also, the pirates generally attack at night or early morning, when the mist or darkness provides them enough cover to escape notice. Apart from this, even if the pirates get detected in the ship’s radar system, it is difficult to immediately speed up and maneuver such huge ships.

    Piracy in Somali waters thus seems unavoidable unless some drastic steps are taken by International bodies to fight piracy at the grass root level.

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