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Pirate analyst: Piracy must be suppressed through generous investments

It is of utmost importance that both shipping companies and the international community continue to invest in anti-piracy, says pirate analyst Anna Bowden to ShippingWatch.

Photo: Søværnet

Long-term solutions and major investments are necessary if piracy is to be held at its current level or entirely suppressed in the waters off Somalia’s coasts. This is the assessment made by Anna Bowden, associate director of Shuraako, a NGO working with capacity build-up in the Somalian civil society. In 2010 and 2011, Anna Bowden co-authored the report ‘Economic Cost of Somali Piracy’ which the think tank One Earth Foundation publishes.

On Tuesday, a similar report for 2012 was published. The report showed that the number of pirate attacks off Somalia has dropped with 70 percent from 2011 to 2012. Despite the lower number of attacks, the shipowners and the international community continue to invest billions in anti-piracy. In 2012 alone, 6 billion USD went in particular to military prevention, increased fuel costs, and private guards on board. And the investments should keep coming if piracy is to be suppressed, states Anna Bowden.

”My guess is that costs will now stabilize and continue to be at a high level,” says Bowden to ShippingWatch of the total costs which in 2011 were at 7 billion USD and in 2010 between 7-12 billion USD. 

”We need continued investments in both the navy and prosecution and punishment of pirates. At the same time, we need to work on long-term solutions in the form of investments in economic development in Somalia, which in the long term will reduce piracy,” says Anna Bowden.

Bowden mentions EU’s collaboration with the Save the Children Fund and among others The Danish Shipowners’ Association. The NGO has been awarded 12 million USD to assist in the building up of the local community in Somalia as a good example of the necessary future investments.

In addition to the EU collaboration, several international projects are also in progress. In February, major shipping companies such as Kawasaki Kisen, Maerk Line, Stena, NYK, and MOK as well as oil companies such as Shell and BP announced their support for the UN’s development program UNDP with 1 million USD. The money must be allocated to several anti-piracy projects in Somalia during 2013.

UNDP’s expertise in suppressing piracy prompted the companies to choose the UN organization as a partner. For instance, UNDP runs a project with the title ‘Alternative Livelihoods to Piracy in Puntland and Central Regions’ which focuses on anti-piracy.

The 1 million USD will go to creating jobs in sectors such as agriculture, fishing, livestock, and business development in operation of small businesses.  

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