Piracy figures for 2009 surpass those for previous year

  • 23 September 2009

The number of piratical incidents reported so far in 2009 has surpassed the total number reported in 2008, according to the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

The total number of attacks reported to the IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC), to date this year, is 294. Of these, 34 resulted in successful hijackings of vessels. A total of 559 hostages have been taken in these hijackings.

As with the figures of 2008, the lion’s share of hijackings have taken place off the coast of Somalia, either in the Gulf of Aden or off the country’s east coast in the Indian Ocean. Ninety-seven of the 294 attacks have taken place in the Gulf of Aden, whilst a further 47 have taken place off the rest of the coast of Somalia. In addition, four attacks have taken place off the coast of Oman, although they can also be attributed to suspected Somali pirates. Somali pirates accounted for 32 hijackings with 532 crew taken hostage. Four crew were killed.

Somali pirates are currently holding four ships and 82 crew off the east coast of Somalia.

IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan commented: “The fact that last year’s figures have been surpassed three quarters of the way through 2009 shows that pirates, particularly off Somalia, still pose a significant threat to shipping. Since 16 September there have been six attacks off Somalia although none succeeded in a hijacking. The navies continue to play a key role in this area in preventing attacks.”

The South China Sea and Malaysian waters remain a cause for concern, with nine reported attacks in the former and 14 in the latter. Elsewhere in this region, the number of reported attacks off Indonesia currently totals seven, compared to 28 in 2008. This reduction can partly be attributed to increased patrols of the country’s coastline.

The IMB urges all ship masters, owners and other interested parties to report all incidents of actual and attempted piracy, armed robbery and suspicious activity to the PRC. These reports are relayed to law enforcement agencies and governments in order to trigger the appropriate action and evaluate the severity of the problem in their waters. The reports are broadcast to all vessels. Off the coast of Somalia vessels are advised to report attacks in progress to UKMTO in the first instance followed by reports to the PRC.