PIRACY 2009: 406 ATTACKS, 8 DEAD, 49 HIJACKINGS
There were 406 reported incidents of piracy and armed robbery in 2009, a 39% increase on 2008, according to the ICC International Maritime Bureau"s (IMB) latest annual report. In total 153 vessels were boarded, 49 vessels were hijacked, 84 attempted attacks and 120 vessels fired upon. Eight seafarers were killed, 68 injured and 1,052 taken hostage.
The statistics were collated by the IMB's Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which says 2009 marks the third successive year that the number of reported incidents has increased, with 239, 263 and 293 incidents were reported in 2006, 2007 and 2008 respectively. The last time piracy figures exceeded 400 incidents was 2003.
IMB Director Captain Pottengal Mukundan stated: ?Increases in the frequency and level of violence perpetrated against ships at sea and the people who work them is a serious concern. Our hope is that this escalating volume of piracy is met with a heightened response from the governments and their agencies best able to reduce and contain these risks to human life and property.?
The IMB says Somalia remains an area of paramount concern. Piracy activity in this region accounts for more than half of all the acts of piracy reported in 2009. The total number of reported incidents attributed to Somali pirates in 2009 stands at 217, with 47 vessels hijacked and 867 crew members taken hostage. Attacks in Somalia continue to be characterized as opportunistic in nature, the IMB says.
Although the number of 2009 incidents has almost doubled, the number of successful hijackings is proportionately less. The IMB says that this can be directly attributed to the increased presence and coordination of the international navies along with heightened awareness and robust action by the masters transiting these waters.
Captain Mukundan noted: ?The international navies play a critical role in the prevention of piracy off Somalia and it is vital that they remain in the region.?