Solving the Somali Pirate Problem

(Courtesy French Defense Ministry)

Danuel Sekulich’s Modern Day Pirates blog had an interesting proposal for dealing with the piracy challenge in Somalia. It’s pretty simple, actually. Sekulich proposes establishing a moratorium on foreign fishing within Somalia’s exclusive economic zone. According to Sekulich, this “would allow Somali fishermen who claim to have turned to piracy because of the foreign fishers to be allowed to work in safety. And it would undermine any of the claims being put forth that Somali pirate gangs are somehow ‘defending’ their own people.”

Sekulich’s proposal is useful because it addresses the underlying reasons for piracy. Many Somalis turn to piracy out of poverty. They are former fisher people who, as a result of the dumpling of waste and overfishing off the Somali coast, have turned to piracy as a way to earn a living. United Nations backed naval patrols may increase the cost of piracy, but it will not end the practice. Only providing an alternative to piracy will. It’s a parallel situation to the challenge of the opium trade in Afghanistan. And it’s a great example of the interaction of environmental degradation and national security.

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