Since the 1990’s to now piracy on the coast of Somalia and southwest Africa has been a recurring issue. Its economic and social impacts are not comparable to anything else. This issue is not only jeopardizing the safety of cargo crew members but is also affecting the world’s economy. Years of neglect and failure to solve this are backfiring, this issue will be addressed eventually and solid solutions need to be brought to the table before it’s too late.
The horn of Africa is an extremely busy and important net of shipping routes. Yet “The Gulf of Aden is simultaneously one of the world’s busiest shipping routes and one of the world’s most dangerous regions”. Why? The answer is maritime piracy, specifically Somalian piracy. This issue has been becoming more and more common within the last 2 decades. “Pirate attacks off the Horn of Africa-sharply increased between 2007 and 2008”. Obviously this piracy problem isn’t going to solve itself over time if anything it is getting worse.
The climax of this issue was also the needed wakeup call for the world. “On April 8, 2009, the Maersk Alabama, a ship loaded with food to aid the hungry, was attacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia”. Captain Richard Phillips was held hostage on a lifeboat for over 24 hours before a military rescue operation successfully got him to safety. This story was eventually turned into a major motion picture in 2013. This helped to raise awareness of this issue. He had one point in an interview that he stressed. “You have to keep the pirates off the ship. Once they get on, it’s over. I’ve said that before and I say that now”. It is imperative that the pirates don’t board, so why isn’t on board or at least maritime security, in general, a major priority?
It is common knowledge that problems call for solutions. So what are the solutions to this issue? Cargo ship captain Richard Phillips stated in an interview that “I think ships should be armed [with] specially trained Special Forces types. Give us ways to protect ourselves”. This could be instrumental in preventing any future attacks and may cause pirates to eschew from attacking any cargo ships. Another (more controversial) solution, would be to move shipping routes away from the horn of africa. This one would probably be the most effective, but it is just economically impossible. It would cost immensely more time and money to get to their destinations. Plus middle eastern ports are key to the oil industry, so changing the routes would be a huge hit on the world economy.
However, some efforts that are being made are proving to be successful. Majority of cargo is transported on the water through maritime routes. Many people had been asking for a change in maritime policies until June 2, 2008, when “the UN Security Council addressed the issue when it passed Resolution 1816”. In a nutshell, Resolution 1816 is a new maritime law that has been placed to allow foreign military vessels the right to enter Somalian maritime jurisdiction if probable cause for threats or ongoing acts of piracy on/at a vessel is present. This act was the first of many leading up to the golden year of 2015. “Last year saw an almost total absence of reports of piracy and armed robbery at sea in the western Indian Ocean and off the coast of Somalia”. However this fact can change at any moment, so we must continue to stay on the right track to completely eradicate maritime piracy.
In conclusion, modern piracy is still a global issue. However, efforts are being made to prevent piracy at sea that has been successful. This success is a beacon of hope in a sea of doubt. Many think that this problem is our own making and will never end. But with enough effort and enough right decisions we may be able to finally resolve this predicament. Experiences like the boarding of the “Maersk Alabama” have helped us learn from our mistakes and move forward into finally terminating this problem.
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