Thursday, April 09, 2009

The other side of piracy

Obviously, there's no justification for the extent of the piracy that is going on off the coast of Somalia, but there are aspects of the situation that haven't received as much attention as perhaps they might deserve. It didn't begin in a vacuum. According to several stories in fairly reputable journals, once the Somali state fell apart (which wasn't perhaps such a tragedy as it is generally considered in some ways), foreign fishing vessels started appearing off their shores and soon had come close to exhausting the fishing grounds ($300 million worth a year) on which Somali fishermen had depended. There are allegations that vessels also dumped waste, including nuclear waste, such that people living along the shore got sick and a bunch of barrels were washed up after the 2005 tsunami.

Word is that the Somalis (at least some of them) consider the foreigners wrecking their coastal waters the real pirates and those we call pirates simply locals trying to get some compensation. There's a good deal of self-justification in that of course, and I wouldn't go so far as to endorse the piracy, much of which is surely motivated mostly by greed and opportunism. And I surely hope the captain is released and those responsible for boarding the ship punished. And it seems likely that old customs will soon have to change and weapons issued on commercial vessels that go through those waters.

No comments: