IMB Piracy Report highlights violence in West Africa
by John C Payne
Somali piracy has fallen to its lowest levels since 2006, focusing attention on violent piracy and armed robbery off the coast of West Africa,Q2 2013 picture the International Chamber Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB)’s global piracy report revealed today. Worldwide, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) recorded 138 piracy incidents in the first six months of 2013, compared with 177 incidents for the corresponding period in 2012. Seven hijackings have been recorded this year compared with 20 in the first half of 2012. The number of sailors taken hostage also fell dramatically; down to 127 this year from 334 in the first six months of 2012.
In East Africa’s Gulf of Aden and Somalia, eight piracy incidents including two hijackings were recorded in the first six months of 2013, with 34 seafarers taken hostage. The IMB attributes this significant drop in the frequency and range of attacks by Somali pirates to actions by international navies, as well as preventive measures by merchant vessels, including the deployment of privately contracted armed security personnel. Mr Mukundan said: “The navies continue to play a vital role in ensuring this threat is kept under control. The two vessels hijacked were recovered by naval action before the pirates could take them to Somalia.
Only the navies can take such remedial action after a hijack. Denying the pirates any success is essential to a sustained solution to this crime. Pirates are known to be operating
in these waters. Despite the temporary protection provided by the southwest monsoon in some parts of the Arabian Sea, the threat remains and vessels are advised to be vigilant and comply with the industry’s Best Management Practices as they transit this area.” As of 30 June 2013, Somali pirates were holding 57 crew members for ransom on four vessels. They were also holding 11 kidnapped crew members on land in unknown conditions and locations. Four of these crew have been held since April 2010 and seven since September 2010.
Elsewhere in the world, low level thefts against vessels in ports and anchorages in Indonesia accounted for 48 attacks of which 43 vessels were boarded and some crew injured. IMB’s report includes details of the ports and anchorages where attacks appear to be concentrated.
In the Gulf of Guinea, in addition to a rise in piracy and armed robbery – 31 incidents so far this year, including four hijackings – IMB reports a surge in kidnappings at sea and a wider range of ship types being targeted. This is a new cause for concern in a region already known for attacks against vessels in the oil industry and theft of gas oil from tankers. “There has been a worrying trend in the kidnapping of crew from vessels well outside the territorial limits of coastal states in the Gulf of Guinea,” said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB, which has monitored world piracy since 1991