NAIROBI, Kenya — Frustrated by a string of failed hijacking attempts, Somali pirates have turned to a new business model: providing “security” for ships illegally plundering Somalia’s fish stocks — the same scourge that launched the Horn of Africa’s piracy era eight years ago.
Somali piracy was recently a fearsome trend that saw dozens of ships and hundreds of hostages taken yearly, but the success rate of the maritime hijackers has fallen dramatically over the last year thanks to increased security on ships and more effective international naval patrols.
Somali pirate gangs in search of new revenue are now providing armed protection for ships illegally fishing Somali waters. Erstwhile pirates are also trafficking in arms, drugs and humans, according to a report published this month by the U.N. Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea.
The security services for fishermen bring piracy full circle. Somali pirate attacks were originally a defensive response to illegal fishing and toxic waste dumping off Somalia’s cost. Attacks later evolved into a clan-based, ransom-driven business.