Somali piracy is a land-based problem that the international community is trying to solve at sea, according to an expert from The University of Western Australia.
Professor Sarah Percy, from UWA's School of Political Science and International Relations, will discuss at an international conference in Perth this week why measures to control piracy off the coast of Somalia are not working.
Professor Percy said piracy would be almost impossible to stop in Somalia because it had become so entrenched in the country's culture.
"Their business is hijack and ransom. They don't have the infrastructure to move the cargo in the ships they seize, so they make money by holding the crews hostage. Their business plan is well-organised.
"We believe there are about 5000 pirates in Somalia and they sub-contract other people to negotiate the ransom claims, house the crew, feed them, collect the ransom then return the crews to their ships, all relying on corrupt infrastructure.
"Each of the pirates would probably make between $10,000 and $15,000 profit per ship they seize. When you consider the average income in Somalia is $290 a year and the average life expectancy in a country that is riddled with ongoing violence is 49, you can understand that so many young men will willingly take the risk."
Delegates from more than 65 countries, including representatives from government, international organisations, peak industry bodies and academic think tanks will attend the conference, organised by the Federal Department of Defence.
The conference will examine how efforts to deal with piracy in south-east Asia can be used in the broader region, including how these measures could be used off the Somali coast and in the emerging challenge of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, off West Africa.