The State of Maritime Piracy 2013: much done, much more to do?

The cost of Somali piracy in 2013 fell by almost half to $3.2bn as the number of attacks from Somali pirates continued their year on year decline. However, the resources dedicated to capacity building and shore based counter-piracy programmes continue to represent only a minute fraction of the total costs of piracy, raising questions about the long-term sustainability of the decline in Somali piracy. These are just some of the headline findings of the recently published State of Maritime Piracy 2013 report, the fourth instalment of Oceans Beyond Piracy’s annual estimates of the economic and human costs of piracy.
Among the other key findings of this report, which assessed the impact of piracy in both East and West Africa, the author’s found that:
  • Attacks carried out by Somalia-based pirates have continued their multi-year decline with only 23 vessels attacked in 2013. However, regional seafarers in East Africa continue to be at high risk of attack.
  • The international community spent an estimated $139.1 million to deter each attack that took place in 2013.
  • Despite this, concerns are raised about the long-term sustainability of counter-piracy initiatives. While investments in capacity-building initiatives have, for example, increased, they still only account for 1.5% of the total cost (up from 0.5% in 2012).
  • Moving only a small fraction of the costs and resources spent on counter-piracy from suppression to capacity building “is more likely to have a lasting impact” and “is the only way that the international community will meet their goal of zero attacks and zero hostages.”
Of particular importance for the Lessons Learned Project, the report places significant emphasis on a more structured approach to counter-piracy activities in both West and East Africa. The report calls for better coordination between international and regional actors and for “better systems of information sharing, coordination, and capacity building” to ensure more effective local actors in both East and West Africa.​

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