Huge drop in pirate attacks: UN
The UN Office on Drugs and Crime's (UNODC) piracy programme has led to a significant cut in pirate attacks and seizures of ships, according to its executive director Yury Fedotov.
"If in 2011 ransom payments totalled nearly USD 150 million, in the first 11 months of this year they were a mere USD 35 million," he said
There are 1,200 sea pirates behind bars across the world, including 870 who are serving their sentences in piracy-infested East Africa, he said.
A new element in the UNODC's activity has been the struggle against the laundering of the proceeds from ransom payments, Fedotov said.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon previously said ransom payments cost hundreds of millions of dollars, creating a "pirate economy" in areas of Somalia that make them more resistant to efforts to developing alternative livelihoods.
A recent study estimated the cost of piracy to the world economy from disruption to international trade at between USD 7 billion and USD 12 billion.
Russia keeps a naval task force in the Gulf of Aden as part of the international effort to fight piracy off the Somali coast.