EU Navfor Rear Admiral Duncan Potts (seconded from the Royal Navy--history suggests they know a thing or two about piracy) gives a number of reasons for this decrease:
- The deployment of armed private security guards on board ships who have been 100% successful in deterring or defeating attacks;
- Better management practice by shipping companies, such as hardening their vessels or taking evasive action;
- Pre-emptive action by combined navies in the region, helping to ensure that pirates do not get out of their anchorages;
- A change in Somalia at national and local level, with Somalis far less tolerant of pirates.
To be sure, Somali fishers-turned-pirates still complain that it was European overfishing in their waters that has made them lose their traditional livelihoods and turn to yo-ho-hoeing. I tried to investigate this evocative environmental notion sometime ago, but there is no data comparing fish stocks off the Somali coast over the years that could provide empirical evidence for such claims. (Please get in touch with me if you do!) So, what we are left with are counterarguments from those encouraging deterrence that other factors play a far larger role.
For instance, see this interview of Patricia OBrien, UN Under Secretary-General for Legal Affairs ont he matter:
Q: Many fisherman impoverished by declining fish stocks turn to piracy. Will the Yeosu Project [see here], which aims to build the capacity of emerging countries to address such issues, contribute to combating piracy?And cue "Rhymin' and Stealin'" for old times sake...
A: The initiative taken by the Republic of Korea is commendable, and constitutes an important part of the regional and international efforts that must be undertaken by States Parties to UNCLOS and to the 1995 Agreement relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks to promote the conservation of fish stocks, both within and beyond the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ, a nation’s official territorial waters).
However, the root causes of piracy do not only lie in the mismanagement of fish stocks and the depletion of resources from seas and oceans. If the trends regarding piracy off the coast of Somalia are to provide any guidance, whereby pirates have expanded their areas of operation and acquired heavier artillery, allowing them to attack larger ships further out at sea, major shipping routes such as the Strait of Malacca should continue to be monitored closely.