This paper identifies the root causes and general typology of the widespread phenomena of piracy off the coast of Somalia. It shows that piracy in this region started as a direct response to illegal fishing, with widespread claims of hazardous waste dumping offering added moral justification. It argues that the two international crimes that are the root causes of Somali piracy constitute corporate terrorism at sea. The alacrity of the earliest illegal trawlers that were captured by the fishermen to pay ransom unleashed the scourge of criminal/ransom piracy that has overshadowed – in figures and discourse – ‘defensive’ piracy. Restoring the state and combating poverty can help minimise the favourable conditions that latter-day pirates exploited to launch their trade, but will not eradicate piracy without successfully containing the corporate terrorism that triggered it in the first place. Moreover, combating poverty among fishing coastal communities require the eradication of illegal fishing.
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