Somalia's Pirate Cycle: The Three Phases of Somali Piracy

Edward R. Lucas
2012 Social Science Research Network  
This article provides a theoretical framework for examining Somali piracy from its origins in the 1990s to the present. This analysis provides both a detailed description of the changing nature of piracy, as well as explanations for why these changes have occurred. The increase in pirate activity off Somalia from 1991 to 2011 did not occur in a steady linear progression, but took place in three separate phases. These three phases can be viewed in terms of a "cycle of piracy," based on a theory
more » ... based on a theory developed by the pirate historian Philip Gosse in 1932. By employing this framework, policy-makers in the U.S. and elsewhere would be better able to judge when counter-piracy intervention is necessary. By preventing piracy from developing into large-scale professionalized operations, as witnessed in Somalia since 2007, the international community will be able carryout more efficient and effective piracy suppression operations in future. Somali Piracy: Phase One The Somali coastline, which stretches for more than two thousand miles, is comparable in length to U.S.'s Atlantic seaboard. 20 While most Somalis have traditionally made their livelihood as nomadic herdsmen, the country also has a long tradition of fishing. The waters off Somalia have historically proved a rich fishing ground for tuna, swordfish and other high-value catches. As a consequence of the collapse of the Somali state -including the country's maritime security forces -these fisheries were left utterly unprotected. Without any form of regulation, foreign fishing vessels were free to employ a variety of unsustainable practices, such as "nets with very small mesh sizes and sophisticated underwater lighting
doi:10.2139/ssrn.2161673 fatcat:hecwaxsl5fdhho6dbb6gebinv4