Decline in Somali activity helps world sea piracy fall 54%

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Suspected Somali pirates are apprehended by a patrol of the European Union Naval Force Somalia (EUNAVFOR), one of several initiatives to combat piracy against international shipping off the coast of Somalia. Photo- EUNAVFOR

Worldwide sea piracy levels fell by 54% during the first half of 2012, helped by a massive drop in Somali piracy, an international maritime watchdog said Monday.

The International Maritime Bureau said in its report that ‘pre-emptive and disruptive counter piracy tactics’ adopted by international navies patrolling in seas off Somalia as well as increased presence of private armed personnel on board ships attributed the sharp drop in hijackings and attacks.

Overall, 177 incidents of sea piracy were reported in the first six months of 2012, compared to 266 incidents for the same period in 2011, the International Maritime Bureau said in its findings. The report noted that 20 vessels were hijacked worldwide, with a total number of 334 crew members taken hostage. There were a further 80 vessels boarded, 25 vessels fired upon and 52 reported attempted attacks. At least four crew members were killed.

The IMB also expressed concerns over the worrying increase of attacks in the Gulf of Guinea.

“The naval actions play an essential role in frustrating the pirates. There is no alternative to their continued presence,” Pottengal Mukundan, the director of IMB, which has been monitoring world piracy since 1991, said in the report.

“The naval actions play an essential role in frustrating the pirates. There is no alternative to their continued presence,” he added.

Somali Piracy

The report said that Somali pirates hijacked fewer vessels, down from 21 to 13 during the first six months of this year and also highlighted a decrease in the overall number of incidents of Somali piracy from 163 in the first six months of 2011 to 69 in 2012. However, the IMB insisted that Somali piracy continues to pose a serious threat to international maritime in the Indian Ocean.

“Somali pirate attacks cover a vast area, from the Southern Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Gulf of Oman to the Arabian Sea and Somali Basin, threatening all shipping routes in the north west Indian Ocean,” the director of IMB said.

The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre is the world’s only manned centre which receives and disseminates reports of piracy and armed robbery 24 hours a day across the globe.

The report disclosed that effective deployment of Best Management Practices, ship hardening and increased use of Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel (PCASP), contributed to the falling numbers.

“As of 30 June 2012, Somali pirates were still holding 11 vessels and 218 crew, 44 of whom were being held ashore in unknown locations and conditions,” the IMB revealed.

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