Drop in attacks off Somalia eases global piracy
LONDON _ Piracy at sea dropped to its lowest levels in 6 years in 2013 when 264 attacks were recorded worldwide. That is a 40% drop since Somali piracy peaked in 2011, says the International Maritime Bureau. It said 15 piracy “incidents” were reported off Somalia in 2013, down from 75 in 2012, and 237 in 2011.
The IMB’s annual global piracy report shows more than 300 people were taken hostage at sea last year and that 21 were injured, nearly all with guns or knives. In all, 12 vessels were hijacked, 202 were boarded, 22 were fired upon and a further 28 reported attempted attacks. Nigerian pirates were particularly violent, killing one crew member, and kidnapping 36 people to hold onshore for ransom.
“The single biggest reason for the drop in worldwide piracy is the decrease in Somali piracy off the coast of East Africa,” says IBM Director Pottengal Mukundan. The IMB has been monitoring world piracy since 1991. IMB says Somali pirates have been deterred by a combination of factors, including the key role of international navies, the hardening of vessels, the use of private armed security teams, and the stabilizing influence of Somalia’s central government.
West African piracy made up 19% of attacks worldwide last year. Nigerian pirates and armed robbers accounted for 31 of the region’s 51 attacks, taking 49 people hostage and kidnapping 36. Nigerian pirates venture far off Gabon, Ivory Coast and Togo, where they were linked with at least five of the region’s seven reported vessel hijackings. Malaysian waters saw the hijacking of two product tankers with 27 crew taken hostage, resulting in the theft of ships’ property and cargo.
In Indonesian waters, the IMB report cited a high number of “low-level opportunistic thefts (yet) these accounted for more than 50% of all vessels boarded in 2013. Over a third of Indonesia’s incidents were reported in the last quarter of 2013.”