Piracy Driven by Economic Strife

Somali Pirates

Published Jul 9, 2015 7:57 AM by The Maritime Executive

In an informal survey by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and Oceans Beyond Piracy of 66 Somali inmates convicted of piracy, economic strife was their primary reason for engaging in maritime crimes.

One prisoner said that he went to sea to hijack ships because his family was poor, but other inmates offered they actually left piracy on the high seas once they had enough money to retire. Some prisoners mentioned that illegal fishing had taken the only work they knew and that if it persists piracy may continue because it is many Somalis only option.

The presence of the international naval forces was a primary deterent to piracy deterrent, and many of them said the warships patrolling was a significant contribution for them to stop their maritime crimes. Private armed guards was another reason that some of the inmates left as well.

Family and community pressures and counter-piracy messaging are effective as well. One prisoner said that being in prison was the worst place to be in the world. Meanwhile, others cited that the fear of imprisionment was a huge deterrent.

Piracy off Somalia reached a peak in 2011. But, the region has witnessed a significant decrease during the past three years. Oceans Beyond Piracy reported that in 2014, there were only 18 pirate attacks and none of them actually hijacked a commercial vessel. An increase in regional security measures and heightened naval patrols has been the main contributor for the decline.

Meanwhile, Southeast Asia has seen the opposite side of the trend recently with 2015 registering its highest level of attacks over the last five years.