Piracy attacks around the world more than doubled to 240 from 114 during the first six months of the year compared with the same period in 2008, the ICC International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB) said today.Think how bad it could have been without the navies protecting ships...
“As in the last quarterly report, the rise in overall numbers is due almost entirely to increased Somali pirate activity off the Gulf of Aden and east coast of Somalia, with 86 and 44 incidents reported respectively,” the report said.
The year’s second quarter saw 136 reports of piracy compared with 104 in the first three months of 2009, an increase of almost a third.
A total of 78 vessels were boarded worldwide, 75 vessels fired upon and 31 vessels hijacked with some 561 crew taken hostage, 19 injured, seven kidnapped, six killed and eight missing. The attackers were heavily armed with guns and knives in the majority of incidents. “Violence against crew members continues to increase,” the report concluded.
Nevertheless, the presence of navies in the Gulf of Aden from several countries have made it difficult for pirates to hijack vessels and has led them to seek new areas of operation such as the southern Red Sea and the east coast of Oman, where Somali pirates are believed to be responsible for a spate of recent attacks.
The report said that attacks off the eastern coast of Somalia had decreased in recent months after peaking in March and April, with no attacks reported in June. But the Piracy Reporting Centre attributed the decline to heavy weather associated with the monsoons that are expected to continue into August. The centre said vigilance should nevertheless remain high during this period.
Nigeria continues to be a high risk area, with 13 incidents reported in the second quarter to the IMB and at least 24 other attacks which have not been directly reported.
IMB Piracy Maps for 2009 to date (in order World, Off Somalia, Gulf of Aden):
Top photo from here.