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How Can Seasteading End Somali Piracy?
Gabriel Rothblatt   Jun 9, 2012   Ethical Technology  

During the recent Seasteading Conference reports highlighted the benefits of different regions for proposed seasteads. Where some factors were favorable others were not - off the coast of East Africa is environmentally a very favorable location but the issue of piracy makes it forlorn.

The Seasteading Institute’s mission is to inspire political competition. In proximity to nations such as Somalia, Sudan and Saudi Arabia an atoll of innovative political thinking is very much needed. Not only is there perhaps nowhere on earth with a greater need for such a place politically, but there are greater benefits as well.

Piracy is a serious risk between Africa and India, and shipping companies and navies have been spending far more than normal in security. But
why are there pirates in the first place? Foreign companies enabled by poor governance have polluted the shores and rivers and have left those nations without jobs or resources. Piracy is dangerous for all, yet it will continue as long as the causes are present.

What if seasteading could not only solve political instability, but the famine and piracy as well?

With little initial investment a small sea farming operation begins off the coast of Somalia.  The operator comes into a Somali port to hire workers; they are trained on the principles of sea farming, desalinization and hydroponics. As production grows, experienced workers are trained on constructing expanded farming quadrants, crop management and even given the support to begin their own operations.

As primarily a concept farm incorporated for social benefit and not for profit, almost all food production can be offloaded at little or no cost to support the local communities - greatly diminishing the food drought in that region.

The same farmers who helped grow the food sail back to shore and distribute it in the markets, creating local wealth and good will. By using almost exclusively Somali fishermen to operate these farms you are thereby providing an alternative to piracy in their communities. By supplying food into their communities you attack an urgent humanitarian crisis and add an additional incentive to avoid piracy.

So… what about the seastead? The food is given freely so there is not much purpose in raiding it, the staff is entirely made of the desperate fishers and farmers that no longer have a reason to be pirates, so their ransoms would not be profitable.

The status quo will still exist and will be the largest obstacle to success.  However, with the tide turning against the pirates on many fronts, and the specter of a stronger central government on the rise, even pirate masterminds will see the profitability in abandoning the trade for the increasing economic vitality of progress.

There is also the issue of Islamist militants who maintain a rocky relationship with the pirates. While seasteads may resolve many issues like the practice of piracy, I concede that seastead farming off the coast of East Africa may not resolve the issue of jihad.

Back to the question of initial investment: the growth of the seastead would be self-perpetuating, but the start-up would require a firm but gentle push. Here’s a few possible venues for start-up capital:
    * The shipping companies and navies in the region may find cooperative contributions to be sounder investments than security personnel.
    * Arab financiers sympathetic to the conditions in the region may find it a moral investment with endless returns in the eyes of Allah.
    * Likewise there are Christian missions and NGOs that have the resources to kick-start this programming.

Although the concept is being proposed from far-off lands it is crucial to the success that the implementers be as largely from the depressed regions of Africa as possible. This will allow them to share their knowledge and experience at home, further accelerating the benefits.

Although the possibility exists for seastead farms to bequite profitable, it would be unwise to give that expectation to this scenario until the piracy issue has been resolved; instead reinvesting all capital into the growth and success of the operation and it’s mission.

Perhaps there could be no truer realization of the quote “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him for life.”

Gabriel Rothblatt is an Ambassador for the Seasteading Institute, a member of the Board of Directors for Terasem Movement Incorporated and the Lifeboat Foundations Futurist Board of Advisors. He is a former US Congressional Candidate in FL-8, the Space Coast of Florida.


“...almost all food production can be offloaded at little or no cost to support the local communities - greatly diminishing the food drought in that region.”

There is the little matter of shipping foodstuffs inland. Protein (fish, presumably) would help with the good will part, but refrigeration = $$.

Fish will definitely be a component, however there are a diverse selection of crops (even land crops) which can be farmed at sea. Africans are resourceful people I have complete faith they will overcome any storage issues once the need arises. I say almost all food production because I do acknowledge the need to support infrastructure, like refrigeration. You have a good eye for logistics though.

My main interest in seasteading sites is along the equator for sea farming, ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC), desalinization, and precious metals extraction. Somalia would be a very good site for the reasons mentioned in the article. I favor design which leads to affordable mass migration to the seas by the many millions of people looking to improve their lives from the current conditions of poverty, tyranny, and horrific violence seen in many parts of the world.

There is a funding portal specializing in African startup companies, Humanipo, . The founder of Humanipo, Kresten Buch, contributed the prize money for the Seastead Institute’s Sink or Swim business plan contest.

One of the presenters at the Seastead Conference, Dr. Ricardo Radulovich from The University of Costa Rica, has done some some excellent work on low cost sea farming with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The web site for the research is .

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