Drop in world piracy “no cause for celebration”
The drop in global incidents of piracy in the first six months of 2012, which has been driven by a sharp reduction in Somali pirate attacks, reflects the effectiveness of counter-piracy measures.
But, says global business risk consultancy Control Risks. this should not be a cause for premature celebration.
The latest report published by the International Maritime Bureau shows that 177 incidents were reported in the first six months of 2012, compared to 266 during the corresponding period in 2011: a fall of 33 per cent.
“The latest figures published by the IMB come as no surprise”, says Tom Patterson, manager of Maritime Information Services at Control Risks. “Somali piracy has had a disproportionate effect on global figures for several years and the reduction does not reflect a genuine improvement globally but rather a downturn in one area of the world.”
Also notable, Mr Patterson says, are the figures released by the IMB for West Africa, which suggest a dramatic rise in incidents.
“Piracy in West Africa has not attracted the same level of international attention as East Africa in recent years, primarily due to under-reporting and the fact that the crime takes many different forms in that area, not purely hijacking for ransom, but the problem is no less critical. Attacks are violent and the threat to crew safety is significant.”
Tim Hart, senior maritime security analyst at Control Risks, suggests that an evolution in West African piracy has been evident since late-2010.
He ays: “There are many tactical variations amongst pirate groups in that part of the world but perhaps of most concern has been the spread of Nigerian piracy westward. Groups based in Nigeria have increased their operational range and now threaten the waters off Benin and Togo, targeting product tankers in particular for the purpose of cargo theft via ship-to-ship transfer. Such attacks are quick and well-organised.”
Mr Patterson concludes: “Organisations operational in this region need to monitor trends in pirate activity and ensure they have appropriate risk mitigation measures in place.”
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