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Insurers pay $4m for Australian cargo as pirates hit home

Ransom insurance was becoming a necessity in Australia's international trade A ransom up to $4 million was paid through Australian companies and insurers to Somali pirates who seized a bulk carrier in 2008.Many shipping firms are employing armed guards and considering longer, more expensive voyages to avoid pirate hot spots east of Africa.The ransom was paid to recover an Australian cargo of 50,000 tonnes of lead and zinc aboard the Panama-flagged container ship Stella Maris.The carrier, with a crew of 20 Filipinos, was seized by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden in June 2008, Australian Shipping chief executive Llew Russell said.Ransom insurance was becoming a necessity in Australia's international trade, 99 per cent of which travelled via sea, Mr Russell said."You've got to pay the ransom," he said.If companies refused to negotiate ransoms, crews would not be willing to ply the seas off Somalia or other hot spots, including the Strait of Malacca.Piracy is costing the global economy $7 billion a year.Some Australian shippers were so wary of running the gauntlet off Somalia, as they head towards the Suez Canal, they were now rounding the Cape of Good Hope at an extra cost of $2 million per container ship ...

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