Seychelles is no more a paradise for rich holidayers and tourists. It has become a hunting ground for pirates, Somalian pirates. Their operational area is from Seychelles to Mahe, gulf of Aden and Maldives.
The pirates’ target is any ship that passes by in their working area, be it a merchant ship, a cargo ship or an oil tanker or even a passenger ship. Once they boarded a passenger ship which probably carried a thousand passengers. Completely outnumbered, the dozen odd pirates were hammered nicely and thrown into the sea. So, they avoid ocean liners.
What is their aim of hauling up ships? Their merchandise or oil? None of these. The ransom money from ship owners for releasing the ship and crew. They demand millions of dollars and the owners find no way other than paying up the amount and getting the ship back.
The pirates do abduct crew and other passengers sometime. The purpose is the same – ransom. A retired couple set sail in their private yacht one day. They had traveled hardly 60 nautical miles and they were cornered and taken prisoners along with their yacht. It is not known where these two persons, 60 and 56 are. Probably they are held hostage for any negotiation in the future.
The interception could place any where up to Maldive islands.
Don’t the ships have any protection? Yes, the Indian Navy does come to their rescue. They did capture some pirates also and in some cases, after destroying their small ships the men were thrown into the sea to make them fend for themselves or die a horrible death. The UK and American Navies also do help. But then a distance of some 1500 nautical miles cannot be protected every inch. The pirates choose their target and according to their timing.
The greatest sufferer is the Seychelles government and its people. Their tourist traffic has dwindled down to almost a trickle. No honey mooner or holidayer would venture into this area. The island’s income is thus affected.
The other source of income is ‘tuna fishing’; tuna is exported to the European countries. The French and Spanish trawlers who do the fishing for the island have slowed down their activity. So much so, from 2009, the catch has reduced by 30%.
Tuna processing and canning system in Seychelles is a highly automated one. At one end of the conveyor belt, the trawlers unload the catch and at the other you collect the canned tins. The factory has been producing 450 tons of tuna fish daily which has reduced to around 300 now. Some 3000 Seychellians are employed in the fishing industry. Not only the income of the Seychelles population has decreased considerably but also many have become unemployed as well. What will the people do?
Why are the Somalians indulging in this immoral practice? They say, their fishing business from Gulf of Eden has been affected terribly due to poaching by other nations. Next, the gulf has become a dumping ground for all kinds of wastes including toxic waste. This has affected the health of the Somalians. Thousands suffer from mouth disease and stomach disorder.
Somalia is a very poor country and underdeveloped as well. And yet people have to live. What could they do?
In the circumstances, piracy appeared to be a very tempting and a quick money earner method and they had grabbed the opportunity. The Somalian piracy has the public’s support and not considered immoral at all.
The navies of other nations do capture the pirates and try them out in their own courts. Recently there was an agreement among the nations that the convicted Somalians must spend their jail sentence in their own country and should be sent to Somalia after trial. Since the Public have given their open approval for the piracy , will this measure reduce piracy by any significant percentage? Very doubtful. We don’t know what the Somalian governments’ stand is in this regard. Are they for or against piracy?
Possibly thousands and thousands are indulging in this trade. Suppressing or eliminating this large scale professionals is not an easy task through the small help the island gets from neighbouring nations. If fleets of ships are deployed, it may be possible to eliminate the menace. But then, isn’t this asking for the Moon?
The next alternative for the exporters is to send armed escorts in each ship. This should not prove very expensive at all. Since the pirates come only in small numbers, a dozen odd well equipped soldiers on board could easily overpower the thieves of small groups. This seems to be the final solution at the cheapest cost. And the ship owners must consider this option in the interest of their own business and safety of their goods and crew.