Sunday, November 06, 2005
A good overview of the situation (IMHO) is in the new book by William Langewiesche "The Outlaw Sea: Chaos and Crime on the World's Oceans”. (Published in the USA with subtitle " A World of Freedom, Chaos and Crime").
Chunks of this will be familiar from Langewiesche's articles in the Atlantic Monthly on this theme but there is some new material.
Despite the BBC indexing this as an 'African' story it is not just a localised problem near a failed state.
There are hundreds of pirate attacks every year worldwide. With cargoes worth $20 million or so in even a smallish freeighter there is money to be made. And despite lots and lots of paperwork the sea is a world that avoids regulation and policing.
The National Security issues for maratime states are another theme.
It is a journalistic book ( any competent web version would have a lot of links and references) so not to easy to follow up. But do have a look before going overboard on rogue states and on lack of international action. Most Flags of Convenience for example are in the hands of private companies not national governments. (The Bahamian registration of the cruise ship 'Seaborn Spirit' is an example of this).
And there are lots and lots of regulations supervised by the International Maratime Organisation which modern pirates can actually use as smokescreen. Ships simply disappear, crews dispers and cannot be traced, pirates come aboard with complete bills of lading for the cargo...