Since the mid-200s the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea have been active with pirates seeking to ransom ships and their loads and crew. This situation has required alternative routes or procedures; either the areas were avoided, or considerable security had to be provided. There is a considerable economic cost to this piracy, as it needs expensive solutions.
There are many who feel that the international community should secure the shipping lanes, in order to reduce the costs of shipping and ensure order on the high seas. It is not clear that the current method of securing waters is working, since once there are pirates on board most navies will not intervene due to the risks of harm to a hostage as reported by Muhumed and Houreld in a 2009 incident. This leaves the sole possible reactions to piracy leaving hostages to die or paying ransoms. This does not reinforce ideals are objectives in reducing piracy. The International Community should secure the shipping lanes both by securing the waters but also in consulting with and partnering with the local communities from where the pirates come from. If there are strong options that are more attractive than piracy, then piracy will be abandoned. Those opportunities need to be extrapolated from and tied to an interest and a stake in maritime shipping security.
The only alternatives to the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden for European initiated or destined shipping are going around the coast of Africa in its entirety to reach the Indian Ocean, or the construction of a 1700km canal from the Mediterranean coast of Lebanon or Syria and through Iraq to the Persian Gulf. Since the latter route would mean intensive construction in an area with severe political issues, it would not be likely to succeed and represent and geographic but not a realistic solution.
States which have failed or have weak governance are related to the increase maritime piracy in nearby waters. Pirates do not have to consider law enforcement in such states, and the political issues in their home nations make piracy economically attractive (Hastings 2009). Given this idea, the best way to handle the situation would be prevention of weak or failed states and intensive intervention and rehabilitation where this has already occurred.
Providing more attractive opportunities that serve maritime merchants through ensuring security and other tasks of shipping must be a critical aspect. One possible cause contribution to the attraction of piracy is that fisherman can no longer make even a subsistence living due to foreign overfishing, and the ecosystem has suffered due to the dumping of toxic wastes (Sumaila & Bawumia 2014). If pirates can find their riches in ensuring regulation and certainty over shipping routes, there will be a massive decrease in piracy.
Onuoha and Ezirim (2014) investigated the dramatic increases in piracy and the deployment of military navies to ensure the security of the shipping industry. They concluded that this was inefficient, as it required endless reaction to situations. The proposed that security in African waters requires dealing with the root causes which include the desperation of people in the failed and weak states. The situation of Somali pirates calling anti-piracy forces for help against a rival gang suggests that this would be complemented by increased presence of naval security that ensures the safety of all, rather than just merchants passing through.
Increasing maritime security needs to occur alongside political and economic development in the failed states that are producing pirates. In the meantime shipping companies and their clients will pay the price through more expensive costs.