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Piracy at sea -Are we at the end?

Origin of piracy

Origin of piracy should be as old as shipping itself, however the documented proof of piracy dates back to 14th century BC which is also pretty ancient. The 1st documented instances of piracy were in Aegean sea and Mediterranean Sea.

Most of the piracy attacks were done at converging water bodies like Strait of Gibraltar, Malacca straits, Gulf of Aden and English Channel.

Reason for piracy

The reason of piracy was mostly two-1) the government of the area was weak 2) the government if strong supported the pirates on piracy which increased the piracy. History has it, that Rome was one of the countries who used to permit Piracy as it the pirate fleets helped to cripple Rome’s enemies and provided trading opportunities. However, once piracy began to threaten Roman shipping, the Romans were forced to respond

Evolution of piracy

The oldest documented pirates were the Lukkan Pirates who operated in the Mediterranean Sea. All of the countries around the around the Mediterranean Sea had to deal with them. Even a King developed an army only to just fight the pirates called the Cretan fleet, these pirates were active till around 900BC.

Next comes the Era of the Queen Teuta, who was the queen of an area called the Illyria which is the present are on the east coast of Adriatic Sea or area opposite to Italy on the east side. Even though she herself was not a pirate, she promoted Piracy and fought with other as if it was her right! When the piracy affected Roman shipping, Roman Generals had come to negotiate with Queen Teuta for truce and at least not attack roman vessels, she outright refused and may even had one of the generals killed while on his way back. The Mediterranean Piracy started around 900 BC and went up to 100 AD.

The next Era of piracy was in the south China Sea which is even active till date in various strengths. These pirates started thriving from around 200 BC till around 900 AD. The piracy has always been active and never died in this region only increasing and decreasing in strength based on their opposition.

The next generation of piracy developed in a very improbable area in today’s world which was the North Atlantic and the black sea! There were lot of fighting between the countries there and there was no stability and a concentrated force against the pirates. This helped increase the piracy in that area, the piracy in this area started around 300 AD was not been able to subdue until around 1250 AD.

Next and the biggest Piracy the world faced was that of the Barbary pirates who operated out of four North African bases--Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli and various ports in Morocco--between the 16th and 19th centuries. These pirates were actually sponsored by the rulers of the above countries and took part of the bounty from the pirates. There were 2 main purpose of Piracy 1) being the money and treasures which were taken by the ships and 2) Slaves mostly Christians who were sold in the markets

Modern piracy primarily exists in the Straits of Malacca in the South China Sea, off the coast of Somalia, and in the Gulf of Guinea. These regions each utilize different piracy business models: Somalia is a kidnap and ransom operation working in the absence of state authority, Gulf of Guinea pirates steal oil including kidnap and ransom, and Asian pirates focus on robbery and theft at sea. Gulf of Guinea and Asian piracy primarily occur in territorial waters.


Laws related to piracy

Article 100 of UNCLOS provides that “[a]ll States shall cooperate to the fullest possible extent in the repression of piracy on the high seas or in any other place outside the jurisdiction of any State.” The General Assembly has also repeatedly encouraged States to cooperate to address piracy and armed robbery at sea

Solas-Chapter XI-ISPS CODE

All the preparation with regards to security is made on the basis of the ISPS code as part of SOLAS and the BMP (Best management Practices) published regularly by a group of global organisations (Authors: BIMCO, ICS, IGP&I Clubs, INTERTANKO and OCIMF) Documentation and practice onboard vessels

1) SSP-Ship Security Plan-This can also be called the security manual as this document contains all details with regards to handling the security of the vessel.

2) Training-there are 3 courses designed for training the designated staff with responsibility of security-ship security officer and Company Security Officer and for the Port Facility Security Officer

3) As per the SSP the ship staff are required to conduct regular drills on all kinds of security threats apart from Piracy and armed robbery.

4) The BMP guide gives extensive guidance on actions to be taken including risk assessment, planning for entering a piracy prone area, various reporting procedures, and actions to be taken when the vessel is under attack

5) Most of the operators presently provide trained Armed guards onboard vessels when transiting the piracy prone areas.

In summarising, Piracy is one of the oldest professions and with time may be the techniques have changed however the profession if you may call it may not stop at all. Piracy also is done with high tech equipments in line with technology improvements in the world. The sea piracy is always a big syndicate and not a small group of robbers trying to rob a ship. And it is always about the money not about people. And they are always ready to negotiate the Ransom.

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Credit-IMB Piracy report

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