Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Good News and the Bad News on Piracy

The countries of the world are doing something, and it is better than nothing. Piracy attacks down by a third in Q1 2010: watchdog
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Pirate attacks around the world fell by 34 percent in the first quarter of 2010 from a year ago due to the continued presence of foreign navies in the Gulf of Aden, a maritime watchdog said on Wednesday.

The London headquartered International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said its piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur logged a total of 67 incidents from January to March this year. There were 102 incidents in the first three months of last year.
2009 was the worst year in 6 years, so some improvement in 2010 is a good thing. The Somali piracy problem (Gulf of Aden and environs) saw a decrease from 41 attacks in the first quarter of last year to 17 attacks in the first quarter of this year.

But that doesn't mean we should forget about this problem (as most of the US news media seems to have done).

Because the attacks continue. (UPDATE) Pirates seize Liberian cargo ship with 21 crew off Oman
NAIROBI - Pirates stormed a Liberian-owned bulk carrier with 21 Filipino crew on Wednesday, as the end of the monsoon season brought a fresh assault on one of the world's most vital maritime routes.

Pirates armed with AK47 assault rifles and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher scaled the sides of the Voc Daisy in the Gulf of Aden and took control of the vessel, the European Union's naval force in the region said.
And the NATO (and other) patrols in the Gulf of Aden, are only serving to shift the area of attacks.
And there were signs Tuesday that pirates are now heading to the un-patrolled further reaches of the Indian Ocean, helped by the relatively calm seas which accompany the end of the monsoon season.

They captured 77 Thai fishermen in three boats some 1,200 miles (2,222 kilometers) from the coast of Somalia, the first time the pirates have struck so far east into the Indian Ocean.
In an effort to stop the "catch and release" policy so far followed by a lot of NATO countries, the US brought 11 pirates, captured in 2 separate instances to Virginia to face trial.
They are charged with piracy under the law of the nations; attack to plunder vessel; assault with a dangerous weapon in the special maritime jurisdiction; conspiracy to use firearms during a crime of violence; and use of a firearm during a crime of violence.
Too soon to know if this is a good idea, or if it will work in the long run. (The EU doesn't think much of the idea of bringing pirates out of Africa for trial. In case anybody cares.)

And finally, someone says something that makes sense. News Article: Admiral Urges Arming of Vessels to Combat Piracy
A top Navy commander suggested yesterday that commercial vessels should arm themselves when traveling through pirate-infested waters off the Somali coast.

Navy Adm. Mark P. Fitzgerald, commander of U.S. naval forces in Europe and Africa and of NATO’s Allied Joint Task Force Command Naples, told Pentagon reporters that the scope of the piracy problem is too great to be policed by military vessels alone.

“We could put a World War II fleet of ships out there,” Fitzgerald said, referring to the Gulf of Aden and the Mozambique Channel off the Indian coast, “and we still wouldn’t be able to cover the whole ocean.”
Don't expect the countries that just hate the idea of arms in private hands to agree to this however.

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