We tend to think of the pirate tales out in the Indian Ocean as a throwback to earlier times of clipper ships and gold doubloons. But in 2010, it was a big — make that huge — business. According to a piece in Business Daily Africa on Monday, Indian Ocean pirates cost the world economy as much as $12 billion in 2010 in ransoms, insurance payments, the cost of naval operations, prosecutions and retooled shipping routes.
The pirates — almost all from the ungoverned east African nation of Somalia — only get a tiny slice of that sum, of course. But it’s enough to keep them raiding: Somali pirates are earning up to $79,000 a year, 150 times the annual income of law-abiding Somali landlubbers. More distressingly, the average ransom sought has jumped from $150,000 in 2005 to $5.4 million last year.