July 20, 2005
Piracy incidents fall
The number of reported piracy attacks worldwide is down approximately 30%
A report from the International Maritime Bureau says the number of piracy attacks reported worldwide in the first six months of the year is down approximately 30 percent on 2004. Between January and June 2005, 127 acts of piracy were reported, compared with 182 attacks counted during the same period in the previous year.
The just released report, Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships, notes that by mid-2005, pirates boarded ships in 92 instances, six ships were hijacked, and a total of 176 crew members were taken hostage.
Indonesia was the country with the highest number of recorded attacks. It accounted for one third of the global total with 42 incidents.
Violence and intimidation of crew continues to be a hallmark of piracy, with many attackers arming themselves with guns and knives.
While the decreasing number of attacks is a positive trend, the situation in several hot spots has deteriorated. After a quiet spell of nearly two years, serious attacks have resumed off the eastern coast of Somalia. In the past three months alone, eight violent incidents have been reported in the area. In each case, pirates armed with guns and grenades attacked ships and fired upon them. In at least four of these incidents, crew were held hostage for ransom.
"Pirates operating off the Somali coast have become increasingly audacious, routinely seizing vessels well outside territorial limits and forcing them closer to the lawless shore," said Captain Pottengal Mukundan, Director of the IMB. "Demands for ransom are higher than ever before and negotiations for the release of vessels and crew are often difficult and prolonged. The utter lack of law enforcement infrastructure in the area is leaving far too many vessels and mariners unprotected."
Other areas where piracy appears to be on the rise, including Nigeria and Iraq. Since 24 May 2005, four incidents have taken place in Nigeria's Bonny River.
In recent years, piracy in Iraq has been virtually non-existent; however despite the close proximity of coalition naval ships, four serious incidents were reported in the waters off the Basra oil terminal since 22 April 2005.
No incidents were reported in the ordinarily tumultuous Malacca Straits in the months following the 26 December 2004 tsunami. This period of calm appears to have ended, with eight violent attacks recorded since the end of February 2005.
The work of the IMB Piracy Reporting Center is funded by 25 organizations including P&I Clubs, ship owners and insurers.
Copies of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships, (GBP 18 inclusive of postage) and further information can be obtained from:
ICC--International Maritime Bureau