Somali pirates are in the news again for a few reasons. There was the release of 26 hostages after 5 years, along with warnings that pirates could make a resurgence and the frightening prospect of piracy by Islamic extremists who just seized a town on the Gulf of Aden.
We figured it was a good time to look back on how Somali pirates disrupted world shipping a few years ago, and how they almost disappeared.
Piracy in the Western Indian Ocean had an economic cost of $7 billion in 2010, according to non-profit Oceans Beyond Piracy. By 2015, that number had fallen to $1.3 billion thanks to countermeasures including the rise of naval patrols and industry recommendations to go faster, follow certain routes, and post armed guards when passing through the danger zone.
The following maps from the International Maritime Bureau show piracy incidents around the world during the rise, fall, and potential resurgence of Somali piracy.
The world saw 293 pirate attacks in 2008, including about 129 around Somalia (red shows actual attacks, yellow shows attempted attacks).
Pirate attacks soared to 406 in 2009, with 217 around Somalia.
There were were 445 attacks in 2010, with 219 around Somalia.