In the first nine months of 2012, Somali pirates made 70 attacks—less than half the 199 reported during the same period last year. From July to September last year, 36 incidents were reported. From July to September this year, only one ship reported an attack.
It’s not a perfectly clean record, but it’s a sign that policing works, says Capt. Pottengal Mukundan, director of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB). He attributes the decline to intervention by international forces as well as the best management practices and armed guards aboard ships.
“We welcome the successful, robust targeting of Pirate Action Groups by international navies in the high risk waters off Somalia, ensuring these criminals are removed before they can threaten ships,” said Mukundan, in a statement. “It’s good news that hijackings are down, but there can be no room for complacency: these waters are still extremely high-risk and the naval presence must be maintained.”
Cases of ships attacked by Somali pirates have dropped this year to the lowest point since 2009, the IMB reported on Oct. 22. But new centers of piracy may be forming.
Piracy increased slightly in other areas this year, including the Gulf of Guinea and Indonesia.
Since January, the Gulf of Guinea has reported 34 incidents, compared to 30 last year. Togo, in the Gulf of Guinea, had 11 attacks this year. That is more than the country has seen in the past five years combined. Nigeria accounted for 21 of the attacks in the gulf.
IMB reports that the attacks in the gulf are often violent, planned, and aimed at stealing refined oil products. To cover their tracks once the vessel is hijacked, pirates damage the communication equipment and sometimes even the navigation equipment.
In Indonesia, 46 incidents were reported in 2011. From January to September 2012, 51 incidents have already been reported.
Seafarers need to stay alert in South East Asia warns the IMB: hijackings have occurred this year in the Malacca Straits, South China Seas, and around Malaysia.
Overall, however, piracy has declined in the world—233 incidents were reported globally this year, the lowest third-quarter total since 2008.
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