Recent Anti and Counter Piracy Developments in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Guinea

There is difference between anti-piracy and counter-piracy. Anti-piracy is about elimination; medium to long-term perspective, strategic, national, regional and international character, in other words it is a ”pipe dream”, cannot be done. Counter- piracy is about containment; short term and medium term, tactical, operational, private, national, regional and international character. This presentation/article is about counter-piracy policies and initiatives. When it comes to East Africa, believe it or not, 99.5% of the funds spent on counter-piracy go to counter-piracy operations.

2013.11.14 - Recent Anti Piracy Developments Figure 1

Maritime piracy is considered as a geopolitical trigger of global supply chain. Below you may have a picture of the public’s perception about the maritime security and piracy. This is what we call a ‘vortex’ issue because when something pops up in the middle of the ocean, makes the headlines for few days, couple of weeks and then dies out , nobody remembers a thing about it. However there are two groups who cannot forget the incident, seafarers and their families and also high-level managers who are working for shipping companies.

2013.11.14 - Recent Anti Piracy Developments Figure 5

West Africa, Gulf of Guinea, East Africa – mainly Somalia, Malacca Straits are considered as the hotbeds of maritime piracy. There is one important thing to remember; what you are looking at these areas is just the tip of the iceberg.  Just to scratch on the surface a little bit and give you the tip of the iceberg; Latin America makes its way to Europe for cocaine, ivory transits from East Africa to West Africa into Southeast Asia. Cocaine is a 1.5 billion dollar business a year and ivory is a 30 million dollar business a year. Arms transit from the peninsula into East Africa, human trafficking from East Africa to the peninsula, heroin from the subcontinent onto East Africa and from East Africa to Europa in the Southeast Asia. I.U.U.F, which stands for Illegal Uncontrolled Unreported Fishing, is a 2.0 billion dollar business a year makes its way from West Africa  to Europe and Asia.

2013.11.14 - Recent Anti Piracy Developments Figure 2

‘By chance’, piracy’s hotbeds worldwide are mostly failed states; this is something to mull over. When it comes to maritime security, this is not a linear world, it is a world full of curves, so you think you are dealing with a crime however, in fact you are dealing with jacks of all trades. One year they play piracy, next year cocaine and the following year they play unregulated fishing.

East Africa (Somalia) vs West Africa (Nigeria)

Regarding the ‘Theaters of Action’

  • Unstable Government vs Stable Government
  • Pockets of Government vs Pockets of Lawlessness
  • Distitutio vs Poverty
  • Quasi-Military Trained Personnel for both areas
  • Very low geographical concentration vs medium-high geographical concentration
  • Massive corruption for both areas which is the common denominator of seaborne crime all over the world!

Regarding operations

  • Opportunistic attacks vs Well planned attacks
  • All kind of ships vs mostly crude oil tankers
  • Use of weapons in both cases
  • Use of mother ships vs no use of mother ships
  • Hostages kept for months vs hostages kept for days
  • Ranson vs cargo theft

Regarding counter- piracy

  • International naval ops vs national naval ops
  • National/ regional land operations vs national land operations
  • Persecution and/or capture and release policy vs mainstream corrupted prosecution
  • P.C.A.S.P.s vs National militaries
  • Djibouti Code vs Yaounde Summit

2013.11.14 - Recent Anti Piracy Developments Figure 3

2013.11.14 - Recent Anti Piracy Developments Figure 4

Above article is an edited version of Mr George Kiourktsoglou’s, Greenwich Maritime, Engineering Management, Lecturer, presentation during 2013 SAFETY4SEA Athens Forum

You may view relevant video by clicking here

The article was initally published in SAFETY4SEA.

An interesting paper regarding maritime piracy written by George Kiourktsoglou & Ale cD. Coutroubis can be found in the following link: Is Somali piracy a random phenomenon?

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