In 2010 there were or are three trials, The Netherlands had convictions on June 18, 2010, the United States convicted on November 24, 2010 and Germany opened its trial on November 23, 2010, the first in hundreds of years. The last previous trial for piracy in the United States was during the War Between the States 1861-1865, also known as the Civil War after the Cessation of the Southern States to form The Confederacy. Under United States Code Title 18-1651 the last conviction for Piracy was in 1819.
This year by November 2010 there have been 164 piracy incidents, 37 hijackings, 700 people taken hostage and 12 killed or injured. There are reports now of mercenaries going into action from the anti-piracy patrols and taking "force reaction with extreme prejudice" to the armed pirate gangs.
The talk, patrols, action and trials have been against the Somalis off the Horn of Africa. But how about those others pirates committing nautical thuggery. Of course who springs to mind firstly are the so called 'Sea Shepherds'. How do these trials affect their activities which include ramming, firing weapons, boarding on the High Seas, and trailing lines to foul propellers of vessels. Now the Sea Shepherds have vessels engaged in anti-whaling and anti-tuna fishing operations. Of these vessels two the MS Steve Irwin and MS Bob Barker are under The Netherlands Flag State. This is the country that has just obtained a Piracy conviction in its Court System. That resulting case law could be applied to the two Sea Shepherd vessels if they conduct nautical thuggery this coming 2010-2011 Whaling Season in the Southern Ocean which has been the pattern of their behaviour in the last six seasons.
The third vessel is an Australian Government vessel MS Gojira that sails under the Australian Blue Ensign - the National Ensign - not the Australian Red Ensign of the Australian Merchant Navy. Should this vessel engage in counter-whaling activities it would mean that under International Maritime Law it is engaging in Australian Government approved actions against a Japanese merchant vessel or vessels sailing as a fleet. If such action is not approved by the Australian Government under a Privateering Commission by "Letter of Marque" then it is an act of Piracy under International Maritime Law. In turn any such action could be considered an Act of War by Australia against Japan. Such a very dangerous action would release the Japanese Self Defence Force Navy to take armed counter-measures against Australia and Australian vessels.
This is just the sort of situation 'Wats-his-name' thoroughly enjoys as it gives him fund raising fodder. Also the pro-wikileaks types are frothing at the mouth with excitment at the prospect of governments continuing to make fools of themselves.