Analyst: Step up effort to stop piracy

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More must be done to stop pirate attacks, including an expansion of the international legal definition of piracy to include attacks on the high seas and in territorial waters, which is where most hijackings occur, according to Peter Chalk, a senior analyst at the Rand Corp.

"The bottom line is that deep ocean patrols have served to push pirate attacks closer to Somali shores, where there is little naval presence," Chalk wrote in a recent opinion piece. "National governments should enact and enforce domestic laws congruent with global agreements. To add credibility to these moves, the United States should ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), which has governed other sovereign maritime states for the last 16 years."

Another solution, he said, is to forge public-private partnerships to underwrite costs for better coastal monitoring of nations abutting pirate-infested waters.

Every 12 hours last year, young men boarded motorized skiffs and hijacked vessels on the waterway used by 24,000 ships around the Horn of Africa.

Pirate gangs have accrued $150 million in ransom to date, about $4 million per ship, Chalk said, adding that Somali gangs now hold 18 vessels and 379 crew members for ransom.

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