Will private convoy services be needed to protect shippers on high seas?
March 15, 2013
As the defense budgets of leading countries around the world are cut, anti-piracy operations are being hard hit. The US could be the latest country to cut anti-piracy spending, meaning a further reduction to the forces patrolling the area around Somalia.
Although there has been a recent decline in attacks, it is estimated that 40% of this decline can be attributed to the presence of warships that have previously been contributed by countries including the US and UK.
According to Ant Sharp, CEO of the London-based convoy service, Typhon, if the deterrent taken away the problem will return.
“While some claim there has been a reduction in piracy in recent years; pirates are opportunists, and any that have previously been deterred will soon see opportunity renewed as deterrents disappear.”
Worryingly this reduction of anti-piracy measures is coinciding with other environmental factors, which together could see a sharp rise in piracy levels. Reports are showing that illegal overfishing from other foreign fishermen is endangering the livelihoods of fishermen in both Nigeria and Senegal.
“Their complaints are strikingly similar to those voiced by Somalia’s shortly before the boom in piracy,” said Ant. “What starts as a defence of their livelihoods can quickly escalate into piracy as impoverished fishermen seek a living. If this pattern is repeated we could see an expansion of pirate hotspots to include the West Coast of Africa, an area that currently has no UK, EUNAVFOR or US Naval presence”
We continue to see regular acts of piracy even at a time when the levels are considered low. With ships still carrying 90% of the world’s cargo, including essential commodities like oil and gas, the void left by the cuts must be filled. Typhon’s convoy service offers a replacement for the service being withdrawn due to cutbacks, and also offers services including offshore rig and port protection.”
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