Incidents off the east coast of Somalia have surged this year
The total number of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden and off east-coast Somalia so far in 2009 has already overtaken the figure for all of 2008, according to the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC).
In 2008, there were 111 incidents including 42 vessels hijacked. So far in 2009, there have been 29 successful hijackings from 114 attempted attacks.
The Gulf of Aden has been the site of a total of 71 attacks so far in 2009, of which 17 resulted in successful hijacks. In 2008, there were 32 hijacks from a total of 92 attacks. This year has seen a surge in activity off the east coast of Somalia, with 43 attacks so far compared to 19 in the whole year 2008.
There has also been an increase in the number of vessels fired upon in these regions. In 2008, there were 39 instances of vessels taking fire from pirates. Already this year, there have been 54 cases.
IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan commented: ‘The reduction in successful hijackings can be partly attributed to the presence of international navies in the region. The level of attempted attacks, however, shows that the pirate gangs have not been perturbed by this presence and, if anything, have stepped up operations in order to secure a higher success rate. The number of cases in which shots were fired could indicate an increased willingness on the part of the pirates to use aggression to meet their ends.’
In 2008, a total of 815 crew members were taken hostage from vessels hijacked in the Gulf of Aden and off the east coast of Somalia. The total number of hostages taken in these regions during 2009 already stands at 478.
The IMB has urged 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 promptly relayed to law enforcement agencies and governments in order to trigger the appropriate action and evaluate the severity of the problem in their waters.