grew significantly in the period from the ‘first’ attack in 2005 until the
period of decline in 2011 (The World Bank, 2012, pp. xi)1. Daxecker
and Prins quote IMB as stating that as of 2004 there have been 2,600
“incidents” involving pirates (Daxecker and Prins, 2013, pp. 940). Attacks are
aimed at a variety of vessels. According to the World Shipping Council, “In
2010, 32 liner vessels fast ships with a high deck line were attacked and six
were hijacked. In 2011, 65 liner vessels were attacked and one was hijacked. As
of spring-2012, eight liner vessels have been attacked and one has been
hijacked” (World Shipping Council, n.d.). Furthermore, according to the World
Shipping Council, what accounts for the increasing range of Somali attacks is
that Somali pirates seized merchant vessels under the guise of a “mother ship”
in order to conduct operations further out to sea, “more than 1500 nautical
miles from Somalia” (World Shipping Council, n.d.). Over time, and as I surmise
due to greed (i.e. losing their “coast guard”-like veil and opting for money),
Somali piracy has migrated from the coast of Somalia to seas such as the Indian
Ocean (Alessi and Hanson, 2012, pp. 2).
2009, according to Anderson who quotes International Maritime Bureau (IMB)
statistics, there were 217 attacks compared to 111 registered attacks in 2008
in the Gulf of Aden or off the coast of Somalia (Anderson, 2010, pp. 323).
Interestingly, and as Anderson points out, there was significant decline in
piracy in South East Asia around this time (Anderson, 2010, pp. 323). Global
attacks in 2011 were 439 with over half attributed to Somali pirate operations
regionally (Alessi and Hanson, 2012, pp. 1) and (Daxecker and Prins, 2013, pp. 941)2;
according to Nelson and Fitch piracy peaked in this year with 544 vessels
attacked (Nelson and Fitch, 2012, pp. 1). The World Shipping Council attributes
237 of these 439 attacks, and 28 of 45 hijackings, to Somali pirates operating in
the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean (World Shipping Council, n.d.).
World Shipping Council avers that, “As of spring-2012, there have been more
than 51 attacks off Somalia (121 worldwide), 11 hijackings off Somalia (13
worldwide), and over 158 hostages taken off Somalia” (World Shipping Council,
n.d.). Despite these high numbers early in the year, attacks and hijackings
lessened dramatically. By September there were “63 reported attacks and 15
hijackings as of September” (The World Bank, 2013, pp. xi). According to Addis
Ababa, writing for The Economist, “The last hijacking of a merchant vessel
occurred in May 2012” (Addis Ababa, 2017, pp. 1). Ababa then presents that Somali
pirates claimed five attacks in the March-April period of 2017 which to some
could be viewed as a return of the pirates (Ababa, 2017, pp. 1). However, Ababa,
agreeing with Timothy Walker of the Institute for Security Studies, expressed that
the piracy issue never went away but rather international attention became
focused elsewhere (Ababa, 2017, pp. 2). Then again, a Blog Post by a Guest
Blogger writing for John Campbell of the Council on Foreign Relations has
argued that this, “uptick” in attacks by Somali pirate in 2017 was the result
of complacency in security measures, fading memory, miscalculation of the
environment, and general complacency (John Campbell, 2017, pp. 1-3). With these
significant numbers of attacks and hijackings occurring over half a decade,
certainly there should be a resonance in the global economy.
economic cost of piracy has been debated by several authors and institutions, and
it varies significantly depending on the year and vessel attacked. According to
Alessi and Hanson, writing for CFR and quoting a report by One Earth Future’s
Oceans Beyond Piracy, “the global cost of piracy for 2010 to be in the range of
$7 to $12 billion for 2011”, and $7 billion in 2011 (Alessi and Hanson, 2012, pp.
1). The World Bank reports that as of 2005, “149 ships have reportedly been
ransomed for an estimated total of US$315-US$385 million” (The World Bank,
2013, pp. xi). Additionally, further costs burden the international community
with “increased insurance premiums, expenditures for on-board security
measures, and rerouting or cancellation of shipments (The World Bank, 2013, pp.
xiii). In total, The World Bank estimates that there is a loss of some $18
billion USD to the world economy each year due to piracy (The World Bank, 2013,
has also impacted nearby economies who witnessed a decline in tourism and in
their fishing industry (The World Bank, 2013, pp. xiv). To be sure, Anderson
states that piracy could have actually hurt the fishing industry as catches of
tuna, a major harvest in the region, declined by some 30% in 2008 (Anderson,
2010, pp. 327). Another cost, which was not significantly addressed in other
literature being reviewed, was the cost concerning individual humans. The World
Bank reports that “As many as 3,741 crewmembers of 125 different nationalities became
victims of these pirates, with detention periods as long as 1,178 days.
Reportedly, 82 to 97 seafarers have died either during the attacks, in
detention after poor treatment, or during rescue operations” (The World Bank,
2013, pp. xiii).
to Alessi and Hanson some experts allude to collusion between the pirates in
Somalia, and the terrorist group Al-Shabab also operating in Somalia and
regionally (Alessi and Hanson, 2012, pp. 4). As one example, they offer an
article by Bruno Schiemsky written for Jane’s Intelligence Review, presenting
the links between the two organizations. However, according to Martin Murphy,
and quoted by Alessi and Hanson, the links between the pirates and Al-Shabab
are limited at best due to lack of hard evidence. Murphy proffers that if there
is a link, it is strictly economic and exploitative in nature in that the
pirates are reduced to simply “another source of finance” (Alessi and Hanson,
2012, pp. 4). The World Bank presents some kind of linkage between pirates and
Islamist insurgents and presents further or enhanced cooperation as a concern
(The World Bank, 2013, pp. xiv). With the growing threat posed by pirates to
the sea lanes, regional stability, possible links to terrorism, and increasing
global costs, certainly the international community had to intervene in some
capacity to limit, or outright prevent pirate activities.
I utilized the ‘Executive Summary’ for this report. However, the full World
Bank report can be found at: Do, Quy-Toan. 2013. The pirates of Somalia :
ending the threat, rebuilding a nation (English). Washington DC ; World Bank.
The Cabinet Secretariat The Government of Japan Annual Report 2015 report uses
IMB numbers as well in its report and shows 237 attacks and hijackings in 2011
(The Cabinet Secretariat The Government of Japan Annual Report 2015, 2016, pp. 3).