Piracy incidents, violence increase in 2008
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre said its annual piracy report released last month shows an unprecedented rise in maritime hijacking in 2008.
The 2008 figures surpass all figures recorded by the PRC since it began its worldwide reporting function in 1991.
In 2008, 49 vessels were hijacked, more than triple the 18 vessels in 2007. Also in 2008, 889 crew were taken hostage and a further 46 vessels were reported being fired upon. Thirty-two crewmembers were injured, 11 killed and 21 missing, presumed dead. Guns were used in 139 incidents, up from 72 in 2007.
In 2008 there was a worldwide total of 293 incidents of piracy against ships, which is up more than 11 percent from 2007 when there were 263 incidents reported.
The increase is attributed to the number of attacks in the Gulf of Aden with 111 incidents reported on the East Coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden. The rise peaked in September with 19 attacks. In October and November there were 15 and 16 vessels attacked respectively. This is also nearly tripled from 2007.
“We are encouraged by recent efforts to tackle Somali piracy and hope that more governments will continue to devote more assets to the region. International navies are the only ones capable of effective response against piracy in the region and can help to secure the safety and security of this major maritime trade route,” said Capt. Pottengal Mukundan, director of the International Maritime Bureau, which is part of the International Chamber of Commerce.
Nigeria ranked second in the report with 40 reported incidents including 27 vessels boarded, five hijackings and 39 crewmembers kidnapped. The PRC is also aware of about 100 further unconfirmed incidents that have occurred in Nigeria.
On the positive side, there have been declines in other regions.
“Indonesia should be applauded for its sustained efforts in curbing piracy and armed robbery in its waters,” Mukundan said.
“Compared to 2003 when 121 attacks were reported, there has been a continued year-on-year decline with 28 incidents reported in 2008, the majority of which were opportunistic, low-level attacks.”
The Malacca Straits has also seen a reduction in the number of incidents reported, only two in 2008 compared to seven in 2007. IMB credited increased vigilance and patrolling by the littoral states and the continued precautionary measures on board ships.
To request a PDF version of the report by e-mail and to view all the 2008 attacks via the IMB Live Piracy Map visit www.icc-ccs.org.