Somali piracy in decline, but danger still lurks

2014-05-12 07:33
A masked Somali pirate Hassan stands near a Taiwanese fishing vessel that washed up on shore after the pirates were paid a ransom and released the crew. (Farah Abdi Warsameh, AP)

A masked Somali pirate Hassan stands near a Taiwanese fishing vessel that washed up on shore after the pirates were paid a ransom and released the crew. (Farah Abdi Warsameh, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

  • Reef Fishes and Corals
    This colourful guide contains concise information on 234 reef fish and 36 coral species found along... Now R175.00
    buy now
On board the sirocco - Off the coast of Somalia, a sailor on board the French ship Sirocco observes two dhows through binoculars, establishing they are both bona fide fishing vessels.

If the coast of the autonomous region of Puntland is still home to pirates, they take to the seas a lot less frequently than they used to.

The presence of an international armada and the deterrents put in place by shipping companies have reduced piracy off the Somali coast and in the Gulf of Aden to practically nothing. But the threat is still very present.

According to the European anti-piracy fleet Atalanta, the last capture of a major vessel by pirates dates back to May 2012. Since then several vessels have been attacked or targeted but the pirates have not actually managed to seize any of them.

They have managed to seize a handful of dhows, with the aim of using them as mother ships for launching attacks on other vessels. But that booty pales into insignificance compared to vessels seized when piracy was at its peak: catches in those days included two supertankers, each transporting close on two million barrels of crude oil and a Ukranian cargo ship loaded with arms, notably tanks.

The Sirocco has not made any major catches either in its four months as Atalanta's flagship - just five pirates arrested in mid-January on board an Indian dhow which they had seized in a vain attempt to board a tanker.

Since then the ships that make up Atalanta have confined themselves to patrolling, keeping a watchful eye on the zone and helping any vessels in difficulty. A South Korean fisherman, injured in a fishing accident underwent surgery on one of Atalante's vessels.

"The economic model of piracy has been broken," explained Etienne de Poncins, the head of EUCAP-Nestor, a European Union mission whose aim is to beef up the capacity of the countries in this zone (Somalia, Djibouti, Kenya, Seychelles and Tanzania) and enable them to carry out surveillance of their own territorial waters.

'The pirates are still there'

When Somali piracy was at its peak in 2011, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) counted 237 attacks attributed to Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean, from the Somali coast across the Sea of Oman.

In 2013 the IMB recorded only five attacks, all of which failed.

"At sea the phenomenon is under control. But the pirates are still there. They can be seen on the coast," warned de Poncins.

By arresting numerous pirates over the past few years, Atalanta and its allies - Nato, China and Japan, which have all deployed considerable means in the region, a shipping route crucial for world trade - have had a very dissuasive effect.

A raft of measures taken by the shipping sector have also contributed to the decline of piracy: the presence of armed guards on board, the use of barbed wire, an increase in navigation speeds, navigating as far away from the coast as possible.

Indeed experts note that pirates have never managed to seize a vessel protected by armed guards or sailing at a speed of more than 18 knots.

But such measures are expensive. The World Bank noted that "piracy imposed a hidden tax on world trade".

"Piracy costs the global economy roughly $18bn a year in increased trade costs - an amount that dwarfs the estimated $53m average annual ransom paid since 2005," the bank said in a 2013 report.

"It's expensive, so the day when the shipping companies say 'That's enough' the whole thing can kick off again quite quickly," warned de Poncins.

And given that attacks are becoming rare, ship owners and captains are starting to let their guard down, EU Naval Force officials say, reporting that ships are again navigating at slower speeds and sailing closer to the coast in order to save fuel.

"We are becoming victims of our own success," said Lieutenant Michael Quinn of Atalanta, adding however: "the conditions on the Somali coast have not changed and industry must not relax".

The EU Naval Force's mandate applies only to the sea; it is not authorised to launch land attacks on the pirates who still control, notably in Puntland, large sections of the Somali coast.

Clan militia, pirate networks and criminal gangs share power in this country deprived of an effective government since 1991.

The fact that Somali pirates control the coast means they can bring their booty ashore, complete with cargo and crew, making rescue operations very difficult.

The mission of EUCAP-Nestor, which complements that of Atalanta, is therefore to "go ashore and train coast guards so that the countries of the region can be in a position to manage and control their maritime waters, but also to help them put legislation in place", de Poncins said.

Read more on:    east africa  |  somali pirates
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Fashion
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Friday Cape Town - 16:15 PM
    Road name: Wet Weather
    RAIN across the greater Cape Town area - drive with care and use headlights - Allow Extra Tavel Time
  • Friday Kuils River - 09:28 AM
    Road name: Polkadraai Road Eastbound
    ROADWORKS between the R102 Van Riebeeck Road and the R310 Baden Powell Drive exit - DELAYS
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2 TV Series for R250

Get 2 TV Series box sets for R250 and save up to R148! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on electronics!

Save up to 35% on electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900

The Blackberry Bold Touch 9900 is as the name says...

From R2999.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The day may have a fluctuating sensitive energy to begin with, but later when the Moon moves into dramatic and creative Leo you...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.