Privatization Of Ocean Space As A Method Of Fighting Piracy In Somali Waters
Have you wondered what will happen to our water bodies in the following years given they are constantly under threat from pirates and other badly manoeuvred artificial disasters? The case presented here might be too radical and idealistic to be implemented perfectly at the moment, but the idea and essence of it is still worth considering.
The idea of ocean privatization was first developed through the need to increase the ocean’s quality, the ocean-based good’s quantity and handling piracy. The common law on land ownership regulating the pollutants entering waters owned by several people as aggression, owner’s investing on artificial reefs to bolster the fish population, and the dream to help combat Somali piracy sounds like a promising action. It urges the need to support ocean privatization. With rising changes in the access to the ocean bodies by various segments of the populations, this is something worth looking into. This is because the needs and wants of growing and aging population have to be met. The burden ultimately falls on how the present generation works things through. Another overriding factor is the depletion of fisheries, frequent oil spills and piracy.
Many environmental alarms are overstated, but fishery depletion is not. Numerous fish stocks are shrinking; in 2003, about a third were close to collapse. Nations control the waters out to 200 miles off their coastlines. Only limited laws govern the open ocean, where factory trawlers scoop up huge volumes of fish without concern for maintaining a healthy population. These waters manifest into the “tragedy of the commons, ” in which “anything goes” leads to runaway exploitation, because no one has a property interest in safeguarding the common resource.
When it comes to piracy, it is one of the deep seated manifestations of nobody taking care of what nobody owns when that “what” is the sea. We regularly hear about the Somali pirates but practically very few of us have the solution to this. Absence of ownership of these waters means no one has had much incentive to prevent activities that destroy their value — activities such as piracy. If these waters were privately owned, the owner would have a strong incentive to maximize the waters’ value since he would profit by doing so. Governments exercise a kind of de facto ownership over the waters off their coasts and states often have jurisdiction over, and thus control, what takes place in or near so many miles of their shores.
Unfortunately, there is no government in Somalia to control what goes in Somalia’s would-be territorial waters. And in any event, pirates have taken to plying their trade 200-plus miles off the coast — watery territories nobody owns. Predictably, the absence of ownership of these waters means no one has had much incentive to prevent activities that destroy their value — activities such as piracy. The result is a kind of oceanic “tragedy of the commons” whereby, since no one has an incentive to devote the resources required to prevent piracy, piracy flourishes. In contrast, if these waters were privately owned, the owner would have a strong incentive to maximize the waters’ value since he would profit by doing so. That would mean suppressing and preventing pirates.
For example, Puntland, a semi autonomous region in Somalia hired Hart Security to protect their water bodies from pirates and other concerns pertaining to tribal warfare and depletion of natural resources. That would mean suppressing and preventing pirates. The company appears to have enjoyed success in its operations against the pirates and to have built the nucleus of a relatively efficient coastguard, which countered illegal traffic in arms and people. These elements of Hart’s operations involved interaction with, and possibly operations directed against, members of the local community and so were influenced by clan rivalries and tension. Specifically, it was the tribal nature of the pirate groups that caused Hart their greatest problems. A robust operation directed against the tribally homogeneous pirates could easily have been perceived as being an attack on that group.
The international community should try auctioning off Somali’s coastal waters. The international community can use the proceeds of the auction for humanitarian assistance in Somalia, or put it in a trust for Somalia’s future government, if one ever emerges. The “high seas” should be similarly sold. It’s not so important where the proceeds go. The important thing is that the un-owned becomes owned. Establishing private property rights where they don’t currently exist is the solution to about 90 percent of world’s economic problems. The potential for large-scale aquaculture is huge. Between the years 1984-1995, even with government restrictions, aquaculture (fish farms, etc) grew in production from 6. 5 million tons to 21 million tons. Success has been seen not just in quantity, but also in quality. Through dietary control, aquaculturists can produce fish with higher or lower fat contents and adjust strength of flavour.
Property rights in oceans provide a huge opportunity for large scale sustainable aquaculture. Not only this, but ownership of the ocean floor would significantly encourage private investment into resource exploration and set clear lines in terms of the responsibility of those who mine oceans, should accidents and large scale pollution occur. The evolution of private property on land ended the tragedy of the commons, helping to move humanity from perpetual cyclical starvation to socio-economic prosperity and growth. Ending the tragedy of the ocean commons in the world’s oceans may yet prove an equally revolutionary force in providing wealth, prosperity and alleviating the suffering of mankind. Piracy is no exception.
By introducing full scale property rights to bodies of water and large schools of fish, we can move from our current primitive hunter-gatherer method of fishing to fish husbandry and homesteading of the oceans. Property rights in oceans provide a huge opportunity for large scale sustainable aquaculture. Not only this, but ownership of the ocean floor would significantly encourage private investment into resource exploration and set clear lines in terms of the responsibility of those who mine oceans, should accidents and large scale pollution occur.
How else can we protect our ocean bodies from such nuisances? Is there any better way rather than institutionalizing them under private organisations with international bodies overlooking them?
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