Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer


BBC has been running a radio series on pirates, how we came to see pirates mostly deriving from Treasure Island, and romantic literature. Here is a recent article, however, on modern day piracy, which is alive and well, particular off the Horn of Africa / Somalia. Scary stuff. Did you know that 90% of the world’s cargo is moved by sea? And I recently heard that for Kuwait, the percentage of goods delivered by sea was 99%. This article begins a three part series on modern day piracy:

No vessel is safe from modern pirates
By Nick Rankin
BBC World Service

Pirates are not just mythological characters with peg legs, parrots and pistols. They now carry AK-47s and use speedboats to rule the high seas of the world.

Robbery of the high seas is not confined to 18th-Century history and literature or Hollywood films – it is still very much alive today.

Ninety percent of the world’s trade is still moved by sea, so it is not surprising that piracy against cargo vessels remains a significant issue.

It is estimated that seaborne piracy amounts to worldwide losses of between $13bn and $16bn a year.

Piracy peaked in 2003 with 445 attacks around the world and since then, they have more or less steadily come down.

In 2006, there were 239 attacks. Last year, the number increased slightly to 249.

Although attacks have decreased from the early 1990s, Rupert Herbert-Burns, a maritime security expert at Lloyd’s Intelligence Unit, says piracy is still a worrying problem.

“Attacks rose by 14% towards the end of last year, largely due to attacks off the Horn of Africa, specifically in Somali waters or in the territorial waters off Somalia,” he said.

You can read the rest of the article HERE.

March 11, 2008 - Posted by | Adventure, Africa, Crime, Financial Issues, Geography / Maps, News, Social Issues, Travel | ,


  1. I remember reading once or twice about pirates in the past couple of years, I thought it was a couple of random incidents, I didn’t know that so many happened regularly!

    Comment by Chirp | March 11, 2008 | Reply

  2. I actually had a friend who disappeared at sea, and authorities thought his boat had been pirated, and all aboard had been killed. It was such a shock. That was off the coast of Mexico. I had the same impression, Chirp, I didn’t think these things still happened.

    Comment by intlxpatr | March 11, 2008 | Reply

  3. When wealthier nations align their fleet of vessels at Somali coast to fish illegally (estimated at around $6 million as the article says) and dump toxic waste in some parts of the water, aren’t they doing a greater evil and a major harm to the shell-shattared country and her people than the pirates for whom piracy is itself a survival method?

    Comment by shafi | March 11, 2008 | Reply

  4. Shafi, I think you make a good point about the illegal fishing, but where do you get the information about the toxic waste?

    Comment by intlxpatr | March 11, 2008 | Reply

  5. OK, I found it at Timesonline:

    Toxic waste was first dumped in Somalia in the late 1980s, but accelerated sharply during the civil war which followed the 1991 overthrow of the late dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

    Local warlords, many of them former ministers in Siad Barre’s last government, received large payments from Swiss and Italian firms for access to their respective fiefdoms.

    Most of the waste was simply dumped on remote beaches in containers and leaking disposable barrels.

    Somali sources close to the trade say that the dumped materials included radioactive uranium, lead, cadmium, mercury and industrial, hospital, chemical and various other toxic wastes. In 1992, Unep said that European firms were involved in the trade, but because of the high level of insecurity in the country there were never any accurate assessments of the extent of the problem.

    Comment by intlxpatr | March 11, 2008 | Reply

  6. Well I love old and cool pirates like Johnny Depp lol but Speedboats?? Na that’s no proper pirates!

    But really this is scary!

    Comment by ::: ShoSho ::: | March 11, 2008 | Reply

  7. Yeh, well think of pirates more as those blood-thirsty monstrosities he fought against! Think of THEM with AK-47’s, and shudder! You are right, ShoSho, totally, totally scary.

    Comment by intlxpatr | March 12, 2008 | Reply

  8. Somalia is a hotbet for piracy and maritime terrorism. And as we know their targets become larger and more diverse away from the merchant marine towards the cruise industry.

    Comment by Piracy in Somalia | April 12, 2008 | Reply

  9. As you can see in the earlier comments, Somalia is in such chaos that such fund raising tactics are one of the few avenues left to them. I don’t think ANYONE wants to go into Somalia to try to bring about order. I believe there are African UN troops in there now, very brave men.

    Comment by intlxpatr | April 12, 2008 | Reply

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