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Monday, 26 November 2012

Better times off Somalia, but tougher for the decision maker!

Looking at statistics on piracy off Somalia and following incidents reports it is clear that we have had a substantial decrease in the number of attacks as well as pirated vessels. This is promising and thanks to more than one change.

The fact that much more ships has for the last on years enforced the measures described in The best management practice (BMP4) in combination with that naval forces actions has lead to that the pirates has to put much more effort in every pirated a ship. This has during 2012 not only led to decrease in succeeded attacks, but also a drastic reduction in the number of reported attempts. This is however not the end to the piracy off Somalia, but I think it is reasonable to hope for much lower numbers of incidents (compared to 2009-2011) for the years to come.
An important question is what this new level of piracy does to the measures used. I don’t believe that ship and cargo owners are willing to spend as much as they have done during the last years, some measures has to go eventually. These waters are not the only risky ones and money saved can be used for protection else were or used for filling holes in a very tough business. This raises a lot of questions for the future:

Who will take the first step and reduce the protection measures or anti piracy activity off Somalia?
When will this happen, for how long can we have a low level of attacks and high level of protection efforts? Probably for some more months, but not for a year.

Based on what analysis, only historical or also forecast based on the development in Somalia?
But also; what will happen when we will have a high profile ship pirated after the guard is let down? Will it be considered a big thing or just an improbable event happening once?

Understanding risk, probabilities, uncertainties and risk perception is central in getting this right and uncertainties and risk perception is of much greater importance than the expected average level of attacks. This is hard on the analyst, but maybe even harder on the decision maker!

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