What Are the Causes of Piracy?

Chronic unemployment, lack of legal consequences and overall opportunity are causes of maritime piracy in the modern world. In many places where piracy is rampant, controlling factors are either nonexistent or ineffective, making piracy a more attractive option to those interested.

Developing countries often face chronic unemployment. Desperate individuals may choose a life of piracy because they are unable to fulfill basic needs for themselves or their families. The destabilization caused by civil war in Somalia both ruined what was promising fish stock for legitimate fishermen and created opportunities for pirates because of a lack of legitimate government. Many fisherman and others who made their living from the sea became pirates as a response.

The legal difficulties in punishing pirates and deterring those who are interested in the act are often a result of jurisdiction. The nature of piracy allows pirates to commit their crime in international waters, making it unclear where they should be prosecuted. Sometimes pirates are tried in their countries of residence, while other times they are tried based on the listed flags of their ships.

Social acceptance also contributes to piracy. In poor areas, pirates are sometimes hailed as heroes as their acts bring economic rewards to their communities. This, however, can be misleading, as the majority of benefits often go to outside financiers.