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Piracy costing world economy billions every year

At last, a sector of the global economy that appears to be thriving… piracy.

Image: Stéfan via Creative Commons

PIRACY ON THE HIGH SEAS is costing the global economy up to €8.97bn annually, according to a new study by US-based think tank One Earth Future Foundation.

At least 54 people have been killed during the 1,600 piracy events since 2006, the organisation believes. By the end of 2010, 500 people from 18 countries were being held hostage by pirates, according to the report.

Piracy off the Somali shore has driven up the cost of insurance and shipping through the Indian Ocean, and pirates in the region are believed to be responsible for the bulk of the annual cost of piracy.

Ransoms paid to Somali pirates have increased from an average of €112,000 to over €4m in the past five years, with the largest single ransom known to have been made reaching $9.5m (€7.1m) for a Korean oil tanker in November 2010.

In November, 2010, a British couple who were held by Somali pirates for 13 months were released and allowed to return home. Paul and Rachel Chandler were kidnapped at gunpoint while sailing on a yacht in the Indian Ocean.

Paul told the Telegraph that he had built a strange rapport with the pirates and taught them yoga, but his wife was held by the “nasty guys” in the gang. The couple were released after a substantial ransom (reportedly around €600k) was paid.

UN sanctions force against pirates

Despite warships from over nine different countries patrolling the area, the pirates are proving quite successful in their endeavours.

In April 2010, the BBC reported that they run very sophisticated operations using high-tech equipment and are heavily armed when hijacking ships.

In 2008, the UN Security Council approved a resolution permitting the pursuit of Somali pirates on land an called on “all states to criminalise piracy under national laws” and urged countries who have military capacity off the Somali coast to “actively fight piracy” there.

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has produced a map of the piracy incidents reported throughout 2010, with the Indian Ocean the predominant site of attacks.

The IMB has established a 24-hour piracy reporting centre based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to help coordinate rescue efforts. However, the pirates often strike quickly and at night, catching crews unaware.

Earlier this month, the AP reported that a group of suspected Somali pirates boarded a British tanker but abandoned the vessel after the 20-member crew locked themselves in a ‘safe room’ and retained control of the ship.

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