|From IMB Piracy Map 2011 to date (click to enlarge)|
PIRACY hit an all-time high in the first three months of 2011, with 142 attacks worldwide, driven mainly by raids off the lawless Somali coast, a maritime watchdog said.Current NATO warning for the Somali piracy threat:
A total of 97 attacks were recorded off Somalia in the first quarter, up from 35 in the same period last year, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said in a report today.
Worldwide, marauding sea bandits' hijacked 18 vessels and took 344 crew members as hostage, and kidnapped six seafarers from their boats. A further 45 vessels were boarded, and 45 more reported being fired upon.
"Figures for piracy and armed robbery at sea in the past three months are higher than we've ever recorded in the first quarter of any past year," said Pottengal Mukundan, director of the IMB's Piracy Reporting Centre, which has monitored incidents worldwide since 1991.
Mukundan said in the first three months of the year, pirates killed seven crew and wounded 34.
At the last count, on 31 March, IMB figures showed that Somali pirates were holding captive 596 crew members on 28 ships.
The current assessment is that there are at least one active dhow PAG in the Arabian Sea. In addition, the fishing vessel JIH CHUN TSAI 68 is still missing and may be active in this area. This is a minimum figure and there remains the possibility that other dhows have got underway from Pirate anchorages and are now also in the area. No other recent activity of note.
Jin Chun Tsai 68 (NATO photo)
Although a low level of activity and recent disruptions of counter piracy forces in the southern Somali Basin, at least one whaler PAG is assessed to be active, possibly along the Kenyan/ Tanzanian coast towards the Mozambique Channel.
Recent reports of piracy in the Gulf of Aden area are showing a slight increase of activity. A mother ship dhow is possibly operating in this area.
In Bab al Mandeb strait area it is not unusual that fishermen carry guns and that they do attempt to fish close to the wake of larger vessels possibly causing confusion.