London: Global pirate attacks fell 28% in the first quarter as naval interventions reduced incidents off the coast of Somalia, the International Maritime Bureau said.
Pirates mounted 102 attacks, down from 142 a year earlier, the London-based bureau said by email on Monday. Incidents near Somalia dropped to 43 from 97 and the number of vessels that were hijacked also fell, it said. Incidents off the coast of Nigeria doubled to 10 and the pirates ventured further out to sea, according to the bureau.
Nigerian piracy is increasing in incidence and extending in range, the bureau said in a statement. While the number of reported incidents in Nigeria is still less than Somalia, and hijacked vessels are under control of the pirates for days rather than months, the level of violence against crew is dangerously high.
Arrested Somalian pirates. Photo: HT
Oil tankers carrying about 750,000 barrels of crude daily through the Suez Canal, the world’s busiest man-made waterway, must pass by Somalia’s coastal waters, according to figures on the canal authority’s website. Container ships moving half the world’s manufactured goods are also targets. Total trade valued at $1 trillion moves through the region, according to the European Union’s naval force.
Naval strikes led to the decline in Somali piracy, the bureau said. Fewer vessels are being seized as owners hire armed guards and deploy better on-board security, it said.
There are about 3,500 Somali pirates attacking vessels off Africa’s eastern coast in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, the United Nations said in February. Somali pirate attacks rose to a record 237 in 2011 and ransoms worth $160 million were paid to release 31 hijacked vessels, according to a One Earth Future Foundation report.
Piracy cost the shipping industry and governments $6.9 billion last year, including $2.7 billion in extra fuel to speed up through the area and $1.27 billion on military operations, according to the foundation.