Sunday, April 26, 2009

Why Pirates Are Losing to Cruise Ships

My experience with cruise ships is limited. And when I say limited, I mean limited. But I do have enough experience as a human being to know that lots of strangers with too much time on their hands on one hand and lots of booze on the other is a combustible combination. Imagine spring break for grownups. Without cops. On second thought, don’t. So, unlike a cargo ship, there must be a security team on board, and since this is not Japan, it will be armed.

But why are the pirates always losing? Two words: risk management. Pirates are businessmen, not soldiers. Their mission is to make money, not war. Taking life doesn’t make sense; losing it, even less. It is instructive that the revenge spree that some feared after the U.S. snipers shot three pirates never emerged.


Sophie said...

My understanding is that most pirates were originally fishermen driven out of a job by more technically advanced fleets that plundered their coastal fish stocks.

The 'revenge spree that some feared' would have happened if this piracy thing was an organised venture with coordination among various pirates group. As fishing is a pretty competitive business, I’m not sure there is such a degree of organisation between the groups.

Jun Okumura said...

You are so right about the origins of the Somali pirates, Sophie. That’s a point that the U.S. media tend to miss.

I don’t think that an “organized” cabal of pirate groups would be taking revenge either. They wouldn’t want to a) kill the goose that lays the golden eggs; nor b) provoke the Western military to invade their strongholds. At least that’s what I think.

Sophie said...

Here’s where the pirates are winning and I’m happy they win. The French tuna fishing fleet is scared and will abort its fishing season in the Indian ocean.

Basically they are safe between Madagascar and Africa, but the tuna moves north towards the Seychelles, into pirate territory. It seems, for the reason I stated above, the pirates have something against them : they steal the beacons the fishermen put on wrecks that attract tuna and move about with the beacons (taunting them ?).

I’m very happy that tuna gets protection this weird way, when ICCAT (aka International Conspiracy to Catch All Tuna) is blatantly unable or unwilling to protect the resource for the next generation.

Source in French I’m sorry :

Jun Okumura said...

Sophie: You never fail to amaze me with your skills at getting at the facts and marshalling them in a cogent argument. You’re probably right in that the pirates have unwittingly provided a (partial) solution to the dilemma of the tragedy of the commons. Your account reminds me of the lush wildlife that flourishes in the no-man’s zone between the two Koreas, as well as in the Chernobyl neighborhood.