A global maritime agency said on Monday that piracy and armed robbery at sea has fallen to its lowest levels off the coast of Somalia since 1995 with only one incident recorded in the past six months.
A report released by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) of the International Chamber Commerce (ICC) attributed the fall in piracy attacks to preventive measures deployed by the foreign warships to thwart such attacks.
“The combined efforts of the Navies in the region, along with the increased hardening of vessels and best management practices compliance, employment of privately contracted armed security personnel, and the stabilizing factor of the central government within Somalia have resulted in this positive sign,” it said.
It however cautioned ship owners and Masters against complacency, warning that Somali pirates still have the capability and capacity to carry out attacks.
“The IMB believes that a single successful hijacking of a merchant vessel, will rekindle the Somali pirates’ passion to resume its piracy efforts,” says the report which was compiled between January-June.
According to IMB, suspected Somali pirates continue to hold 29 crew members for ransom as of June 30.
IMB’s global piracy report recorded 98 incidents in the first half of 2016, compared with 134 for the same period in 2015. When piracy was at its highest in 2010 and 2003, IMB recorded 445 attacks a year.
In the first half of 2016, IMB recorded 72 vessels boarded, five hijackings, and a further 12 attempted attacks. Nine ships were fired upon. Sixty-four crew were taken hostage onboard, down from 250 in the same period last year.
“This drop in world piracy is encouraging news. Two main factors are recent improvements around Indonesia, and the continued deterrence of Somali pirates off East Africa,” said IMB director Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB.
The report however said that there was a surge in kidnappings off West Africa.
Despite global improvements, kidnappings are on the rise, with 44 crew captured for ransom in 2016, with 24 of them in Nigeria, up from 10 in the first half of 2015.
“In the Gulf of Guinea, rather than oil tankers being hijacked for their cargo, there is an increasing number of incidents of crew being kidnapped for ransom,” said Mukundan.