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Stopping pirates before they strike

Probably since the dawn of ocean commerce, seafarers have faced the threat of piracy.


In the last 30 years, major outbreaks have ranged from attacks on Boat People leaving Vietnam to the latest hostage-­taking off tankers in the Horn of Africa. One episode differs radically from the next, “but all are considered piracy under international law,” says Hugh William­son, an adjunct professor in the faculty of management at Dalhousie University.

Now, a new research project that he’s lead­ing in the marine affairs program will bring to gether experts from many fields including marine law, economics, military affairs and transportation. The goal: to come up with po­licy recommendations for the UN that could help prevent future outbreaks.

By examining the problem holistically, says Mr. Williamson, “we think we can come up with a wardrobe of different ideas that can help us deal with the next outbreak of piracy, not just the last one.”

The two-­year program, dubbed PIRACY (for Policy Development and Interdisciplinary Research for Actions on Coastal Communities, Youth and Seafarers) has a $500,000 grant from the TK Foundation and in­kind support from the university.

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