The dominant approach to counter-piracy strategy off Somalia is astonishingly narrow-minded. Deterrence, surveillance and military operations do not provide sustainable or efficient solutions; better strategic alternatives must draw on the lessons of 21st-century peace operations. This perspective leads to an understanding of counterpiracy as a problem of peacebuilding. This allows restructuring and reframing of the problem to permit a much wider repertoire of policy solutions than is currently conceived. This repertoire may include development and security assistance programmes as well as state-building programmes. The approach also permits integration of lessons learned in the frame of international peacebuilding operations, including avoiding technocratic solutions, focusing on power constellations, integrating local knowledge and incrementalism. If the international community wishes to take piracy seriously and respond to its complexities, it would be well advised to adopt a policy in which such alternatives are considered.