There were no pirate attacks in the Malacca Strait in the first three months of this year, thanks to increased security by Indonesia and its neighbors in the piracy hotspot, a maritime watchdog said Wednesday.A slightly different view here:
The last time the busy shipping route was free from pirate attacks in the first quarter of any year was in 1999, the London-based International Maritime Bureau said in its quarterly report.
However, worldwide attacks by sea bandits rose marginally. There were 61 attacks globally in the first quarter of the year, compared with 56 in the same period for 2005, it said.
The bureau praised Indonesian enforcement action for the no-strike figure in the Malacca Strait. In 2005, there were four attacks for the same period.
"Action by law enforcement agencies, notably in Indonesia and the Malacca Strait, has continued to be effective," the IMB said in a statement. "Indonesia in particular, has increased its efforts to defeat piracy by way of a show of force in known (pirate) hotspots."
"It's mainly because of the Indonesian navy's increased patrols," said IMB's piracy reporting center chief Noel Choong said. "But we still prefer to see the Indonesian navy finding out where these pirates are based, because when there are increased patrols, they just lie low."
Choong said pirates have moved to Gelasa Strait, a key waterway off Sumatra island, where they struck seven times in the past two months.
He said Gelasa is used by ships coming from the southern route heading toward the Malacca Strait or toward Singapore or the South China Sea.
Pirate attacks on ships rose 8.9 percent in the first quarter as incidents increased off Indonesia, the world's most dangerous area for piracy, and in Somalia and Nigeria, the International Maritime Bureau said.UPDATE: Lightning bolt on map in area of Gelasa Strait attacks.
Attacks increased to 61 from 56 in the first three months. Sixty-three crewmembers were taken hostage, more than double the number in the same period last year, while 13 people were kidnapped for ransom, the London-based bureau said in a report yesterday.
UPDATE2: One thing to consider in thinking about the "8.9%" increase in piracy is that 2004's tsunami caused a major reduction in piracy for the first quarter of 2005 off Aceh and in the Strait of Malacca, in no small part because of the presence of large numbers of war ships in the area. Compare the following charts (taken from links at bottom of this. If I have stacked them properly, they are 2004, 2005, and 2006 to date. Note the large decrease in the number of incidents in the Strait of Malacca as the years progress:
If you have no murders in a town in one year and two murders in the next year, the percentage increase in murders looks pretty dramatic. But if, in every year prior to the one with no murders, there were an average of four murders per year, the longer term trend is a decrease in the murder rate...if you see what I mean.