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Insurgents of the Sea: Institutional and Economic Opportunities for Maritime Piracy

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Document pages: 27 pages

Abstract: While piracy may evoke romanticized visions of swashbuckling, rum swigging, and skirt chasing pirates hoisting the Jolly Roger, maritime piracy has changed substantially by taking advantage of modernization and substantial upgrading of the weapons, vessels, and weapons it employs. In addition, as documented by the International Marine Bureau (IMB), the frequency of pirate attacks has increased significantly, with more than 2,600 piracy incidents occurring since 2004. We argue that piracy is a result of permissive institutional environments and the lack of legal forms of employment in states’ fishing sectors. We investigate these arguments empirically using data for all countries with coastlines in the 1995-2007 period. Our empirical analyses show that state weakness and reductions in fisheries production values affect piracy as expected. These findings suggest that international efforts in combating piracy should center on improving the institutional environments and labor opportunities driving maritime piracy.

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