Imprisoned pirates survey says navies serve as biggest deterrent

London: An international naval presence serves as the  greatest deterrent to piracy, a survey of detained pirates has shown. The survey, carried out by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the NGO Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP), interviewed 66 imprisoned Somali pirates in Somaliland, Puntland and the Seychelles.

The survey asked the prisoners to identify what their motivations for going to sea were, if they knew anyone that had left piracy, and what their plans were post-prison. The survey also asked their opinion on the most effective deterrent to piracy, and what might stop piracy long-term.

The survey found there is a clear economic basis for piracy, and long-term solutions to piracy may require addressing this. Making money was the principle reason for them to take this dangerous career move. Many prisoners also pointed to illegal fishing as a reason for piracy and suggested that if it persisted then piracy may continue.

International naval presence was frequently reported as a concern or a significant contribution to deterring pirates. The same was true for armed guards aboard vessels, although to a lesser degree than international navies.

“This suggests that a significant draw-down in naval forces may reduce a deterrent factor potentially contributing to the reduction in piracy,” OBP said in a release.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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