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Piracy scourge may return to Somalia's coast, experts warn

Piracy scourge may return to Somalia's coast, experts warn

Somalia

Experts have issued a warning that the threat of piracy may return in the Indian ocean, off Somalia’s coast.

They further add that anti piracy patrols by international war ships and armed guards aboard commercial vessels, that continue to conduct patrols along and beyond Somalia’s coast, have suppressed piracy but not stopped it.

There hasn't been a proper pirate attack on a commercial vessel in over two years, but the guys haven't gone away and nothing has changed on the ground.

“There hasn’t been a proper pirate attack on a commercial vessel in over two years, but the guys haven’t gone away and nothing has changed on the ground,” said John Steed, Horn of Africa manager for the US-based non-profit Oceans Beyond Piracy.

Piracy by Somali gangs began in 2005 and reached its peak in 2011 when they attacked 237 vessels and at year’s end, seized 11 vessels, holding a total of 216 people hostage.

They earned on average more that $2 million for every ransomed ship.

Back then, the total economic cost of Somalia piracy was estimated at $6.9 billion.

A huge chunk of this cost was used towards anti-piracy efforts including deployment of warships and hiring of private armed security teams aboard ships.

These measures worked and Somalia’s piracy dropped off dramatically, so that by 2013 no commercial vessels were successfully boarded.

Today, former pirates have turned to fishing and are finding themselves up against foreign trawlers from countries such as Iran, Spain and Taiwan who conduct illegal fishing.

On any given day, there are scores of foreign trawlers illegally fishing out of Somalia’s territorial waters.

The pirates turned fishermen, are now complaining about the foreign trawlers and have threatened to take up arms again.

AFP

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