Thursday 19 Jul 2018 | 02:39 | SYDNEY
Thursday 19 Jul 2018 | 02:39 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: Piracy and fishing

19 January 2012 15:33

Anna Madeleine Solar-Bassett responds to the Brown-Palombi piece on piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean:

A Kenyan friend was telling me how the failure of any international or concerted military efforts to police the Horn of Africa in the '90s and early '00s following it's collapse led to massive Western-owned/operated fishing trawlers being able to effectively ignore international law of the sea, and international conservation/biodiversity law, by travelling right into the coastal areas of the Horn to scoop up massive amounts of fish (all the 'low hanging fruit' as the case may be).

These stocks were technically protected by international law but, as ever, that law relies on enforceability more than anything; and with fish stocks rapidly depleting worldwide, mass-net trawlers are increasingly desperate to farm fish wherever they can find. No-one policed the EEZs of the Horn and hence those zones were not effectively protected from breaches of their natural stocks. Naturally, mass-trawling completely depleted fish stocks in the area and hence led to a massive collapse in local trade in fish and of course the protein in local diets. As a result, piracy looked very attractive to former fisherman (much more lucrative!).

The irony is of course that, now the pirates are running 'de-facto' security arrangements off the immediate coast of the Horn, fish stocks have replenished and boomed back into life. Unfortunately, piracy is a far more lucrative trade and fisherman of the past are no longer tempted to return to their own trade! Another tick-in-the-box for preventative action staving off policy crises; underlined by the inability of policymakers to follow through on preventative action (lack of funds, infrastructure, predictability of outcomes, or pure political will?).