Solution to Global Piracy Could Start in the Bay of Bengal
Piracy was in decline for nearly two centuries, with its ranks nearly wiped out by the mid-1800s. Amid piracy’s resurgence beginning at the dawn of the 20th century, however, global politics may prevent anti-piracy efforts from achieving what was accomplished nearly two centuries ago.
Part of the problem is, “The economics and politics of global counter-piracy are getting intertwined with regional variations” that differ from one body of water to the next. This is among the main points in an upcoming report, which could offer a starting point to end modern day maritime piracy.
At the moment, the world’s nations are trying to fight piracy using similar methods employed in the 1700s—methods that may have been rendered ineffective by globalization.
The solution, however, may rest in the Bay of Bengal, a body of water shared by India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Piracy in the region is not treated “as a threat to their maritime security, or as a danger to the destruction of the global supply chain,” said Swadesh Rana, project adviser at One Earth Future (OEF), an NGO. “They see it more as a nuisance—robbery at sea.”
Rana spent more than a month meeting with maritime security officials in countries along the Bay of Bengal, researching what will be a groundbreaking study on the causes and solutions to piracy. Although her report has not yet been officially released, she shared some of her findings with The Epoch Times over the phone. The study is part of Oceans Beyond Piracy, the OEF’s flagship project.
“I wasn’t prepared for what I saw, “Rana said. “If there is one body of water in the world today that really holds the promise of becoming an ocean beyond piracy, it’s the Bay of Bengal.”
The Golden Age of Piracy
Modern day piracy and counter-piracy measures are best understood by looking back at the Golden Age of Piracy, which lasted roughly from 1690 to 1725.
It was a time plagued by men whose names live in infamy—Blackbeard, Henry Morgan, Captain Kidd, and others; a time when pirate lords ruled the waters from strongholds in the Caribbean, Madagascar, and the coast of West Africa.
The cause of men turning to lives of piracy, detailed in accounts left to history, is not far from the reasons given by today’s pirates. Two such historical accounts were cited in the book, “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea,” by Marcus Rediker.
Prior to his execution for piracy in 1724, Edward Teach blamed poor treatment aboard ships as his reason, uttering the famous line “I could wish that Masters of Vessels would not use their Men with so much Severity, as many of them do, which exposes us to great Temptations.”
Photo Credit: The 1718 battle between Blackbeard the pirate and Lt. Maynard in Ocracoke Bay. (Jean Leon Gerome Ferris)