Sharp decline in piracy attacks
The most recent statistics produced by the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) indicate that the number of reported piracy attacks in the first quarter of 2007 world-wide declined significantly when compared with the same period for 2006.
IMB’s Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships Report for the first quarter of 2007 cites 41 incidents of piracy in the first three months of 2007. This figure is 20 less than the 61 incidents reported in the first quarter of 2006.
IMB Director Captain Pottengal Mukundan stated: “Although we remain concerned about piracy and violence against ships, we are pleased to see that the number of reported attacks is decreasing. Despite this positive trend, there are a number of regions that continue to be plagued by piracy, most notably Nigeria and Somalia.”
Figures tallied in the recently released report found that the number of attacks in Nigeria doubled when compared with the first quarter of 2006. The six attacks reported for the first quarter of 2007 included a number of violent attacks against vessels and crew working in offshore oil installations. In these cases, crew members were both assaulted and abducted. Attacks on other vessels were also reported in the Niger Delta region. An alarming total of 40 crew members were taken hostage or kidnapped in Nigeria alone.
The situation in Somalia appears to have improved with one vessel reportedly hijacked and only one other incident noted in the first quarter of 2007. The area remains very dangerous and the ongoing conflict in the area makes it extremely difficult for affected parties to seek prompt and adequate assistance from onshore authorities. IMB strongly recommends that vessels stay at least 75 nautical miles from the Somali coastline.
In addition to detailing piracy incidents, Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships Report for the first quarter of 2007 identifies ports and anchorages more prone to violent attacks. Balongan in Indonesia, Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Lagos in Nigeria were highlighted as ports frequently targeted by pirates.
Reported incidents of piracy dropped significantly in South East Asia. Indonesia recorded nine incidents, down dramatically from 19 last year. Two incidents were recorded in the Malacca Straits. This area now represents an excellent example of how cooperation between authorities can tackle and suppress piracy attacks. There was also notable improvement in Bangladesh with only two reported incidents compared to nine in the last quarter of 2006.
Captain Mukundan noted: “In order to maintain positive developments like those found in South East Asia, it is imperative that the local governments continue to devote sufficient resources to the problem. It is also very important that all incidents be reported to IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre. Reporting piracy attacks triggers effective law enforcement and medical assistance responses and maintains a permanent record of all piracy attacks.”
IMB’s Kuala Lumpur based Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) is the only centre of its kind in the world. It remains the only agency providing round the clock reporting of incidents worldwide.
The work of PRC is funded by 22 organizations including ship owners and insurers. The centre is now recognized throughout the maritime industry for its valuable contribution in quantifying the problem of world piracy and providing assistance, free of charge, to ships that have been attacked.
IMB’s Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships Report for the first quarter of 2007not only lists key facts and figures, but also analyses developments in piracy and identifies multiple piracy-prone areas so that ships can take preventive action. On a trial basis, IMB is offering the report free of charge. A copy of the report can be requested by logging on to www.icc-ccs.org.
First quarter attacks may be viewed on the IMB Live Piracy Map.