Over the last several months, pirates seem to have taken the world by storm. More accurately, the news media is reporting on piracy with increasing frequency. Searching on Google News returns over 48,000 news articles related to pirates.
Even though piracy is happening thousands of miles from American shores, it still has real effects on consumers in the US and abroad. By increasing risk and uncertainty, piracy raises the cost of shipping. At the same time, piracy raises the cost of insurance for shipping operators.
In response, shipping companies such as AP Moller-Maersk are rerouting their ships to avoid Somalia’s coast. Somalia is an east African nation which has been ravaged by civil war for decades. Without a strong (or any) central government, piracy in Somalia has become an increasing nuisance. Everything from cement to steel travels on ships and many of those ships pass by Somalia and the Horn of Africa (see the list of ships attacked by Somali pirates).
Piracy cannot be solved overnight but governments and companies are not sitting still. The UN recently authorized the use of military force while private security company Blackwater is holding talks with shipping companies. To learn more, try the following resources: