Saturday, February 12, 2011

Anti-piracy - the facts

The great thing about numbers, trend lines, and analysis is that when done right, it is exceptionally hard to spin.

Though your first stop for all things piracy should be Eaglespeak, both here and over at Midrats we've covered piracy on a regular basis. It is important for a variety of reasons.

Besides the actual implication of lawlessness at sea, it also tells us quite a lot about what does and does not work at the Tactical, Operational, Strategic, and Pol/Mil level. Generally, when something is successful, it expands. When rewarded, it grows. When it is winning, it expands.

If we can accept these general concepts, then we should next examine the topic as covered by The Economist,
The Northwood centre was established in late 2008 as part of Operation Atalanta, a European Union (EU) naval initiative against Somali piracy. It works with the Royal Navy’s UK Maritime Trade Operations office in Dubai as a reporting hub for pirate activity and as a communications hub for the multinational naval forces in the area. The seizure of the Blida was the fourth attack on New Year’s Day; the other three were unsuccessful, thanks to evasive action and other protective measures.

Since then attacks have been running at the rate of more than one a day. According to the International Maritime Bureau, which posts live data on raids, Somali pirates hold 33 vessels and 758 hostages. In January alone the bureau recorded 35 attacks. The raiders took seven ships and 148 new hostages. The United Nations estimates the annual cost of piracy in the Indian Ocean at between $5 billion and $7 billion. Later this month, as the monsoon ends and the seas calm, attacks will multiply and the numbers of ships and hostages held will rise (see chart).
If what we have been doing since 2008 has not been working - then is doing more of it the right thing to do? If not, do we need to try something else?

One thing most agree with, going back to our core concepts, is that to see a decrease in piracy - you have to decrease the number of people engaged in piracy. You can do that is a few ways, but the most effective is to impact the economic equation and risk-benefit analysis of the enterprise. So far, the numbers show that in spite of all the international community's efforts - piracy is still worth it. To argue otherwise is folly.

No comments: