The global economic cost of maritime piracy is immense: estimates range from 7 to 12 billion dollars annually. But the human cost of piracy is incalculable. Masters and crew have been held for ransom along with their vessels. Some have languished in captivity for as long as four years, often under abusive, abhorrent conditions, until the demands of the captors have been met. Others have been killed during fights between pirates and naval forces as revenge for attacks and also for non-payment of ransoms. Even those who are eventually released face on-going problems of post-traumatic stress and many are not compensated at all, not even for their lost wages.
Today the main areas of attack are Africa, primarily the Horn of Africa, and the Gulf of Guinea, South East Asia and the Indian subcontinent. The attacks around Africa, especially in the Somali waters, peaked around 2011 and are now trending downwards. This decline is attributed to increased patrols by naval vessels, better co-ordination among stakeholders as well as better security and vigilance onboard vessels. The South East Asian region, after seeing a dip in 2008 and 2009, has experienced a rise in attacks of late.