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Stopping pirates before they strike

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

BY PEGGY BERKOWITZ | SEP 12 2011

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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