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Somali Pirates: Fighting Against Nuclear Waste and over-fishing?

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Are some, or most, of the Somali Pirates acting to protect themselves from the dumping of nuclear waste and over-fishing of their seafood? In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since – and the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas. Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died. ... At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia's seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by overexploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: "If nothing is done, there soon won't be much fish left in our coastal waters." This is the context in which the "pirates" have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a "tax" on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia – and ordinary Somalis agree. The independent Somalian news site WardheerNews found 70 per cent "strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence". As the author says, there's no excuse for the excesses of these "pirates." And we should remember that people are always willing to come up with a legitimate-sounding excuse for illegal behaviors or social ills. (Example: remember when we were told about the South African belief that having sex with a virgin cures AIDS, and that this was the reason for that country's baby rape problem? A South African co-worker told me that not many people in South Africa really believe that virgin sex cures AIDS. But the superstition makes a handy excuse when foreigners ask why anyone would want to force themselves on a baby. The tale of mystery waste dumpers and fish trawlers could be a similar excuse. ) But if there's truth to these allegations, then perhaps we should be looking into those mysterious waste ships and illegal trawlers instead of sending in gunboats to clear the waters of pirates. Maybe we should also be asking if our seafood is safe, having been trawled from waters where nuclear waste barrels lay leaking.

 

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J. Edward Tremlett is a lot of things, currently. He's back in the states after a seven-year stint in Dubai, UAE. He's been published in such diverse places as The American Partisan, the International American, The End is Nigh, Pyramid Magazine (more...)
 

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