Pirates involved in the high-profile hijacking of an arms shipment off the coast of Somalia said recently that they were driven to piracy by overfishing. In 1991, the country’s government collapsed and patrols that had guarded against international plunder of Somalia’s tuna-rich waters suddenly stopped. Commercial fishers from around the world rushed in and decimated the area’s once abundant fish population. Angry Somali fishers then took up arms and starting confronting illegal fishing boats and demanding payments. Many of them soon recognized a lucrative opportunity in piracy and stepped up their efforts, regularly hijacking ships of all sorts and demanding ransom for their safe passage. This week’s ongoing standoff with the U.S. Navy and others has made international headlines because the hijacked ship is carrying a large cache of weapons, but some 60 ships were hijacked in the area last year. “We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits,” said the pirates’ spokesperson. “We consider sea bandits those who illegally fish in our seas.”