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Saturday, May 4, 2019

Piracy ! Kiwi former Paua diver killed in Panamas

Often we hear about ‘piracy’ when a new movie gets released.  It is reported that in Russia, stringent punishment has been imposed for the piracy of digital TV services.  A  resident of the city of Lermentov in Stavropol territory was engaged for almost two years in the modification and sale of reception equipment for its services.He was detained in January 2016 after having tried to sell a receiver to a security services officer for R2,000 (€27.5) and found guilty last Dec of committing crimes under the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.  He was   sentenced to 18 months of forced labour, with 10% of his income being withheld by the state.vThe court also granted Tricolor damages totalling R105,192, which the pirate has to pay.  He felt the sentence to be unduly harsh and lodged an appeal, the decision was upheld by the Stavropol Regional Court.

Panama  isa country in Central America, bordered by Costa Rica, Colombia, Caribbean sea, Pacific Ocean.  Its capital is Panama city. Panama was inhabited by indigenous tribes before Spanish colonists arrived in the 16th century. With the backing of the United States, Panama seceded from Colombia in 1903, allowing the construction of the Panama Canal to be completed by the US Army Corps of Engineersbetween 1904 and 1914. The 1977 Torrijos–Carter Treaties led to the transfer of the Canal from the United States to Panama on Dec 31, 1999.  The revenue from the canal represents  a significant portion of Panama's GDP. 

For millennia, voyaging on the open seas has been a dangerous and risky endeavour.Between the powerful forces of Mother Nature and self-made obstacles stemming from human error, there is no shortage of possible calamities for even the bravest of sailors….. yet, one aspect most discussed about is the fear of vessels and its cargo, as also the sailors encountering piracy.  Pirates are no longer the cruel ones seen in movies – they are much sophisticated now. A run in with such marauders could lead to the theft of valuable cargo or even possible death, and it’s a threat that carries on even through modern times.

In the first quarter of 2019, IMB reported 38 incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea, representing 28 fewer incidents than the first quarter of 2018 (66). IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre detailed that 27 vessels were boarded, seven vessels were fired upon and four attempted attacks occurred in the first quarter of 2019. No vessels were reported as hijacked for the first time since the first quarter of 1994 ~that sounds to be good news for the shipping industry including Marine insurers.

I have shared something on piracy earlier also but here is something more on it. Piracy is a war-like act committed by private parties (not affiliated with any government) that engaged in acts of robbery and/or criminal violence at sea. The term can include acts committed in other major bodies of water or on a shore. It does not normally include crimes committed against persons traveling on the same vessel as the actor (e.g. one passenger stealing from others on the same vessel). By definition “Piracy consists of any of the following acts:
(a) any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed:
(i) on the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft;
(ii) against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any State;
(b) any act of voluntary participation in the operation of a ship or of an aircraft with knowledge of facts making it a pirate ship or aircraft;
(c) any act inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act described in sub-paragraph (a) or (b).”

In earlier instances, all talk of piracy was about Somalia and Horn of Africa, but they are not isolated to this geographic area alone . While the political upheaval in Somalia does provide an ideal, lawless hideout for pirates, the fact is pirates are often found in many places around the globe. Now comes the news that Pirates have shot a Kiwi man dead and attacked his wife with a machete after boarding the family's vessel in Panama.

Here is something excerpted from NZ Herald.  The dead man is Alan Culverwell, a former paua diver [Māori name given to three species of large edible sea snails, marine gastropod molluscs] from Picton who had worked frequently in the Chatham Islands.The attack took place in the GunaYala region along the country's northern coastline. Alan Culverwell and his wife Derrynare understood to  have sold their Marlborough Sounds home and bought a 65-foot launch in the US before embarking on an 18-24 month sailing adventure home to New Zealand.

The case has similarities to that of Kiwi sailing legend Sir Peter Blake, who was shot by pirates on a vessel near the mouth of the Amazon River in Brazil in 2001.The Culverwell family awoke to hear a noise on the vessel's roof and when Culverwell went out to investigate he was killed.  It is understood Culverwell was shot and his wife Derryn was then attacked with a machete. One of their children also suffered minor injuries. Derryn Culverwell later called for help to New Zealand.The three surviving family members are now receiving treatment in hospital in Panama City, and relatives from New Zealand are flying to Panama to support them.

A report by the Spanish-language media outlet MiDiario said the incident took place on May 2 in the Guna Yala region near the island of Dad Naggwe Dubbir. It was reported that the attackers wore hoods and stole a boat engine. A "brilliant teacher", Derryn had been home schooling the couple's children on their boat as they made their two-year journey home.Having searched the world for a nice boat for years, the Culverwells used the money from the sale of their property to buy a "big 65-footer" in Florida in the US. That journey began when the family recently sold the beautiful and isolated home they owned in waters near Picton, which could only be accessed by boat….. and sadly his end came in that boat.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
3rd May 2019.

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