Tag Archives: piracy

Roving bandits, piracy, and fishing

Piracy has been in the news a lot over the past few years.  Less noticed is the impact of’ roving bandit fishing fleets from the rich world that outfish local fisherman.  The associated press reports on a perverse consquence of Somalian piracy Kenya fishermen see upside to pirates: more fish

A report on pirates this year by the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore said the value of illegal catches from Somalia’s maritime jurisdiction is estimated at between $90 million and $300 million a year, and that foreign fishing vessels hail from all around the world.

The report’s author, Clive Schofield, a research fellow with the Australian Centre for Ocean Resources and Security at the University of Wollongong, called it ironic that nations contributing warships to anti-piracy efforts are in some cases directly linked to the foreign fishing vessels “stealing Somalia’s offshore resources.”

“This situation has led some pirates to justify their actions on basis of illegal foreign fishing activities — styling themselves ‘coastguards’ and characterizing ransom demands as ‘fines,’” the report said. “Without condoning acts of violence at sea, it is clear that the Somalis who hijack shipping off their coast are in fact not the only ‘pirates’ operating in these waters,” it said.

Piracy has not had a huge effect on Kenya’s overall fishing industry, which is not very well developed on the coast, according to the permanent secretary for Kenya’s Ministry of Fisheries Development, Micheni Japhet Ntiba. Kenya has brought in between 5,000 and 7,000 metric tons of fish off its Indian Ocean coast each of the last several years, he said, less than a tenth of Kenya’s yearly catch from Lake Victoria, on Kenya’s western edge.

Piracy “is a negative thing for Kenya fisherman. It’s a negative thing for the Kenyan economy. It’s a negative thing for the western Indian Ocean economy,” Ntiba said. “What I think is important for us is to invest in security so the government and the private sector can invest in the deep sea ocean resources.”

Still, Kenya’s sports fisherman say the pirates appear to have had a hugely positive effect on their industry. Angus Paul, whose family owns the Kingfisher sports fishing company, said that over the past season clients on his catch-and-release sports fishing outings averaged 12 or 13 sail fish a day. That compares with two or three in previous years.

Somali pirates, Paul said, are a group of terrorists, “but as long as they can keep the big commercial boats out, not fishing the waters, then it benefits a lot of other smaller people.”

Oil Pirates of Nigeria

From the BBC Fighting for Nigeria’s oil wealth:

The Niger Delta, a region the size of England, is littered with violence and gas flares – the offshoot of oil extraction – whose roar and heat you can feel for hundreds of metres around.

The flares have become symbols of the region and the paradox that exists in an area where you find one of the world’s richest oil regions alongside some of the poorest people.


With unemployment at 90%, many people of the Delta are tempted to join the criminal gangs who terrorise the area, kidnapping foreign oil workers and launching raids on oil platforms.

Maintenance of the gangs, their boats and weapons is expensive and is funded by the theft of oil on a huge scale – up to 200,000 barrels a day.

The gangs are well-armed and the Joint Task Force is ill-equipped for the challenge.

They’ve managed to seize only a few of the barges used to ferry the stolen oil to huge tankers waiting offshore to take it on to the world’s refineries. It’s a huge and sophisticated operation on an international scale.

For more information on oil piracy see the Christian Science Monitor, PBS Newshour, and the BBC who write “Nigeria’s oil production has been cut by around a fifth since 2006, partly as a result of the violence by criminal gangs and militants. “

Fish Piracy Feeds the Global Rich

A New York Times article Europe’s Appetite for Seafood Propels Illegal Trade describes how fisheries collapse is leading roving bandits to scoop up the world’s valuable fish leaving little behind for local fishers:

Fish is now the most traded animal commodity on the planet, with about 100 million tons of wild and farmed fish sold each year. Europe has suddenly become the world’s largest market for fish, worth more than 14 billion euros, or about $22 billion a year. Europe’s appetite has grown as its native fish stocks have shrunk so that Europe now needs to import 60 percent of fish sold in the region, according to the European Union.

In Europe, the imbalance between supply and demand has led to a thriving illegal trade. Some 50 percent of the fish sold in the European Union originates in developing nations, and much of it is laundered like contraband, caught and shipped illegally beyond the limits of government quotas or treaties. The smuggling operation is well financed and sophisticated, carried out by large-scale mechanized fishing fleets able to sweep up more fish than ever, chasing threatened stocks from ocean to ocean.