A group of armed Somali pirates who seized control of the oil tanker Aris 13 on Monday are demanding a ransom be paid for the ship and its eight man crew, according to the European Union-led anti-piracy operation in the region.

According to the EU naval force handling the situation, contact was finally made with the ship’s master on Tuesday night, who confirmed the ship had been taken over by the pirates and that the eight Sri Lankan crew members were being held hostage.

The hijacking of the vessel came as a surprise to many in the international community, as patrols and the naval presence of nations like the United States, China and even Iran have effectively stifled piracy in the region.  NATO ended its anti-piracy mission off the coast of Somalia in December, a move many feared would prompt a resurgence of the problem.

According to the report, a Somali pirate who claims to be in contact with those who took the ship confirmed that they are demanding a ransom for its return, but stated that the amount they are demanding has yet to be determined.

The Associated Press has reported that the eight men have been locked in one room of the ship and that the pirates cut off all lines of communication with authorities on Tuesday, likely due to fear of a rescue attempt.

According to a statement provided by authorities of Somalia’s semi autonomous state of Puntland, over two dozen pirates approached the ship via two skiffs, prompting the vessel to relay a distress call.  Once on board, the pirates quickly took control of the vessel, cutting off communications from the crew.

Many have cited foreign vessels illegally over-fishing the waters around Somalia as the reason these pirates have decided to take control of the oil tanker, and for potentially driving more citizens of the tumultuous country to piracy as a means of survival.

“The illegal fishing is a very serious problem. Fishing has declined, equipment was confiscated and they destroyed our livelihoods and properties,” said Aisha Ahmed, a fish dealer working in Somalia.