Piracy attacks doubled in 2009

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Global piracy attacks have more than doubled to 240 for the first six months of 2009 compared to 114 in the same period last year, according to a recent report from the ICC International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB).

Revealing that “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 indicated that the year’s second quarter saw 136 reports of piracy compared with 104 in the first three months of 2009, totalling an increase of almost a third.

Indicating that “violence against crew members continues to increase,” IMB reported that a total of 78 vessels were boarded worldwide with 75 vessels fired upon, and 31 vessels were hijacked with some 561 crew taken hostage, 19 injured, seven kidnapped, six killed and eight missing.

Despite reporting that attacks off the coast of Somalia had in fact declined in recent months after having peaked in March and April, the Piracy Reporting Centre attributed this to heavy weather associated with the monsoon season and warned that vigilance should remain paramount.

While Nigeria remains a high risk area, attacks in Southeast Asia and the Far East also increased 100%, from 10 in the first quarter to 21 in the second quarter. Pottengal Mukundan, IMB Director, said: “This is a clear indication that piracy and robbery in Southeast and East Asia has the potential to escalate and shipmasters should remain alert and be aware of the risks involved in the seaway and ports transited during the voyage.”

As the consistently growing problem of piracy is more prevalent than ever before, it is a major cause of concern for the industry and despite the vastly increased presence of naval defence vessels patrolling high risk areas, the IMB has advised that a greater degree of awareness is required across the board.