Piracy on the world’s seas has risen to record levels, with Somali pirates behind 56 percent of the 352 attacks reported this year, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and its International Maritime Bureau (IMB) revealed today in its latest global piracy report. Meanwhile, more Somali hijack attempts are being thwarted by strengthened anti-piracy measures.
“Figures for piracy and armed robbery at sea in the past nine months are higher than we’ve ever recorded in the same period of any past year,” said Pottengal Mukundan, director of IMB, whose Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) has monitored piracy worldwide since 1991.
Demanding millions of dollars in ransom for captured ships and their crews, Somali pirates are intensifying operations not just off their own coastline, but further afield in the Red Sea – particularly during the monsoon season in the wider Indian Ocean. Although Somali pirates are initiating more attacks – 199 this year, up from 126 for the first nine months of 2010 – they are managing to hijack fewer vessels. Only 24 vessels were hijacked this year compared with 35 for the same period in 2010. Hijackings were successful in just 12% of all attempts this year, down from 28% in 2011.
IMB credits this reduction in hijackings to policing and interventions by international naval forces and the correct application of the industry’s latest Best Management Practice.
For 2011, pirates have taken 625 people hostage worldwide, killing eight people and injuring 41. Pirates are often heavily armed, using automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades.