The global shipping industry has declared a victory of sorts over Somali pirates. Upgrades—from crew safe rooms to armed guards—as well as improved international military coordination and maritime standards, have taken their toll on those gangs. The number of incidents peaked in 2011, when 40 attacks were recorded in November alone. By 2012, that figure had dropped to 15 successful attacks off the East African coast, according to U.N. data.
But the victory has come at a high cost. In fact, one analysis from Quartz suggested the shipping companies would be better off simply handing over suitcases full of cash: Annual revenue for the Somali pirates has been estimated at $120 million, versus a price tag for security and upgrades estimated at between $1 billion and $3 billion. As a result, some piracy experts worry about complacency setting in given the recent gains, especially for an industry constantly under margin pressure looking to cut costs.