When I hear someone utter the word pirate, I can’t resist but picture a long bearded man with an eye, tooth and brain missing. The modern day depiction has become far more creative, leathers hats, stocking caps and eye patches are gone with the wind that turned the tide and wrecked the legacy of our rum loving friends.
Today’s pirates are far more sophisticated, tech savvy and daunting. By definition, Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea however it has now taken new forms and can associate with copy-right infringement, illegal distribution of music, films, videos and content. Though piracy has drifted away from its stereotypical depiction, a few characteristic have been anchored in the hearts of all pirates.
Since medieval times, pirates have always been reckless, they plundered anything they thought was financially rewarding, a fact that was accompanied with massive risks. They had no regard for law & authority and created their own form of governing which was sealed by withering oaths and spit. Pirates were not only of European Viking origin, they also roamed the seas of India, East Asia, Eastern Europe, The Caribbean and North Africa.
Are these plundering days over?
Today piracy is found in places we least expect, Somali pirates have been terrorizing and hi-jacking ships of the coast of Somalia. They have possessed a threat to the international shipping industry causing a rapid increase in shipping cost to an estimated £10 billion a year in world trade. For the poverty stricken fisherman of Somalia, piracy has become a very lucrative trade considering that toxic waste has frequently been dumped on the water they once fished.
This has led to the intervention of the United Nations, causing frequent clashes with Coast Guards. These are not just you average fisherman; most of the Somali pirates are heavily armed and have received extensive military training. Without out a developed fishing industry in place, we are sure to see a considerable increase in the number of cargo carrying ships being hi-jacked off the coast of Somalia.
In 2011 there were a reported number of 151 attacks on ships with 25 successful hi-jacks, 159 reported hostages up until February 2012. A Pirate can earn $4.87 Million per ship, making piracy a multimillion dollar industry. There is an estimate of 3500 – 5000 pirates operating around Somalia’s coast. This is a lot of damaged caused by a country that has been caught up in years of Civil War.
Many International Shipping companies have stepped up security and employed military experts, major investment capital has gown towards additional fleet management systems and tracking technology. It is clear to me that the situation is out of control but looking at history, I find myself asking whether piracy has ever been under control?