These pp. 326). The lack of economic prospects for

These
conditions also affected the Somali fishing industry which, “may have directly
contributed to the rise in piracy off the coast of Somalia.” (Anderson, 2010, pp.
326). The lack of economic prospects for fishermen is one of the most oft-cited
reasons for the rise of Somali piracy.1 (United
Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and Oceans Beyond Piracy, 2015, pp. 1, 2, 4).
Additionally, following the collapse of government institutions, foreign
fishing vessels moved into those unguarded water and the resulting illegal
fishing adversely impacted Somali fishermen (United Nations Office on Drugs and
Crime and Oceans Beyond Piracy, 2015, pp. 1, 2, 4; and Anderson, 2010, pp. 327;
and Alessi and Hanson, 2012, pp. 2). Writing for TIME magazine and quoting a
2006 United Nations report, Ishaan Tharoor averred that, without a functioning
coast guard, “Somali waters have become the site of an international ‘free for
all,’ with fishing fleets from around the world illegally plundering Somali
stocks and freeing out the country’s own rudimentarily-equipped fishermen”
(Tharoor, 2009, pp. 1). According to Anderson, “Some pirates claim that they
turned to hijacking as a method to impede foreign vessels trying to destroy
their fishing boats and equipment and to inhibit illegal fishing” (Anderson,
2010, pp. 327) and thus became vigilantes under the guise of a pseudo-coast
guard in order to protect their fisheries. Somali fishermen also reported that
they were fired upon by foreign vessels using water cannons and weapons
(Tharoor, 2009, pp. 1). Therefore, as Rick “Ozzie” Nelson and Brianna Fitch write
for the Center For Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), “a lack of
economic opportunity and development, combined with devastating famines, has
boosted the allure of piracy for many Somalis” (Nelson and Fitch, 2012, pp. 1).

 

In
addition to the illegal fishing issues, various pirates also claimed the dumping
of toxic and nuclear waste on and near the Somali coast following the collapse
of the government required their intervention. Tharoor cites a UN Environmental
Program report released in 2005, that people living along the coast of Somalia
have experienced respiratory issues and skin diseases which are connected to
toxic and nuclear waste (Tharoor, 2009, pp. 2).

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With
the goal of protecting the Somali coastline and adjacent waters from illegal
exploitation, fishermen initially formed groups using titles containing nouns
such as ‘coast guard’ or ‘marine’ (Tharoor, 2009, pp. 1). As Bueger presents,
this evolved into a “grand”, “Coast
Guard narrative” developed by the pirates (Bueger, 2013, pp. 1811-1812, 1817). Seeking
to project higher moral goals (Bueger, 2013, pp. 1820), these pirates began to
create a distinct identity in order to connect their operations to a sense of
collective organization and to create a distinct identity (Bueger, 2013, pp. 1812,
1818 and 1820). As Bueger writes, “Piracy is cast as a normal practice of
protection against environmental crime, resource robbery or the violation of
borders, and as contributing to the economic development of Somali regions”
(Bueger, 2013, pp. 1812). Bueger further notes that pirates have used the idea
of conducting this ‘coast guard duty’ in court in order to lessen a sentence or
to claim innocence (Bueger, 2013, pp. 1822). Pirates assert that, under their
self-proclaimed status of ‘coast guard’, they are protecting Somali waters from
illegal fishing and illegal dumping as a threat to their livelihood (Bueger,
2013, pp. 1818, 1819). Interestingly, pirate justification for seizing any vessel
(versus clearly identifiable fishing vessels) is that any vessel can dump waste
and therefore is a target (Bueger, 2013, pp. 1819). Furthermore, pirates claim
that the presence of foreign warships is simply to protect these various
illegal activities (Bueger, 2013, pp. 1820). Bueger reviews that structure of
the pirate operations, that these are not simple bands of pirates but are
various, well-organized groups who often coordinate between each other (Bueger,
2013, pp. 1820-1821). Lastly, this ‘Coast Guard narrative’ is used in order to
recruit pirates and to create and promote a certain image (Bueger, 2013, pp. 1822-1823).

 

According
to Bueger, there are two primary aspects from which to view the actions
conducted by the pirates. One is an economic lens that focuses on a
cost-benefit analysis employed by the pirate who evaluates the relationship
between treasure and punishment. The second involves the structural
understanding of piracy, seen as a result of structural conditions such as a
weak/failed state, lack of economic opportunity, and a dearth of coastal
management capability. However, Bueger states this structural approach tends to
ignore individual analysis which each pirate conducts (Bueger, 2013, pp. 1814).
As Bueger finds deficiencies in both positions, he combines both into what he
terms as the “practice of piracy” (Bueger 2013, pp. 1815). A “practice” is
a “type of behavior which consists of several elements, interconnected to one
other: forms of bodily activities, forms of mental activities, ‘things’ and
their use, a background knowledge in the form of understanding, know-how,
states of emotion and motivational knowledge” (Bueger 2013, pp. 1815). “Activities” include the operations
conducted by the pirates (hijackings, hostage tacking, theft, negotiation,
navigation etc.); “Objects” are the
physical tools of the pirate (weapons, navigational systems, vessels etc.); “Know-how” concerns the skills garnered
through experience of fishing (navigation, operation etc.) as well as through
the experience of civil war (weapons skills, negotiation etc.) (Bueger, 2013, pp.
1815). Bueger states that pirates had this latter ‘know-how’ due to their
occupation as fishermen, coupled with the experience of decades of civil war
(Bueger, 2013, pp. 1815).  Combined in
tandem with the “Coast Guard narrative” regarding ‘community’, piracy can thus
be seen as a “community of practice”, thus sharing all of the common characterizes
of communities (Bueger, 2013, pp. 1816).

1
Per a joint report conducted by the United National Office on Drugs and Crime
(UNODC) and Oceans Beyond Piracy utilizing interviews with 66 pirates currently
serving time in Hargeisa prison in Somaliland, Montagne Posee Prison in
Seychelles, and Bosasso Prison residing in Puntland. 

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