ICC Study: Incidents of Piracy on the High Seas Hit 6-Year Low


February 2014


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Piracy is continuing to drop in prevalence around the world and has reached its lowest level in six years, according to a study by the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB).


The IMB’s report showed there were 264 incidents of piracy around the world in 2013, down from 297 in 2012. The latest figures illustrate a 40 percent drop in piracy since the number of incidents peaked with 439 in 2011.


Officials said much of the drop in worldwide piracy was due to a crackdown in Somali piracy off the East African coast. In 2013, there were only 15 acts of piracy reported in the waters near Somalia. That’s down from 75 in 2012 and 237 during the piracy peak in 2011.


“The single biggest reason for the drop in worldwide piracy is the decrease in Somali piracy off the coast of East Africa,” said IMB Director Pottengal Mukudan. He added pirates have been deterred thanks to international navies, the use of private security teams and improved stabilization of the Somali government.


“It is imperative to continue combined international efforts to tackle Somali piracy,” Mukudan said. “Any complacency at this stage could re-kindle pirate activity.”


The report also found that out of the 300 people taken hostage by pirates last year, 21 were injured, nearly all of them with guns or knives. In total, 12 vessels were hijacked, 202 were boarded, 22 were fired upon and 28 reported attempted attacks.


While they said the falling prevalence of piracy off the East African coast is encouraging, officials added West African piracy has remained troubling.


In 2013, West African piracy made up 19 percent of the attacks worldwide. Nigerian pirates were especially aggressive, accounting for 31 of the region’s 51 attacks. Nigerian pirates also had a presence in the waters off Gabon, Ivory Coast and Togo and were linked to at least five of the region’s seven reported vessel hijackings.


The IMB also reported a number of “low-level and opportunistic” attacks in Asian waters. These events – which the organization emphasized were not as serious as the African incidents – took place mainly in waters off the coasts of Indonesia, India and Bangladesh. The IMB said it is working with authorities on increased patrols and other measures to reduce the number of incidents.


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