Room To Negotiate

Experts believe that Somali pirates may have reached the limit of ships they can hold, at least for now.

Security agencies have suggested that Somali pirates are willing to negotiate lower ransoms to release ships they have seized — because they are running out of room.

It seems perhaps the pirates have become victims of their own success, as ports at Haradheere, Eyl and Hobyo are choked up with ships.

The pirates are reportedly looking for quicker deals, and seem willing to accept lower ransoms, if it means the ships can be moved on.

Ransoms demanded by pirates have skyrocketed since hijackings off Somalia became an international crisis in 2008. A recent study by the One Earth Future foundation claims the average paid ransom rose to $5.4 million in 2010, from $3.4 million in 2009. Seafarers aboard the cargo vessels were also held hostage up to three times longer while pirates and shipping companies negotiated — from an average of 55 days in 2009 to 150 days in 2010.

But those numbers appear to have reached an upper limit, at least for now, experts say.

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