Skip to main content

Report: Sea piracy drops to lowest level in four years

By Katie Hunt for CNN
updated 8:58 AM EDT, Wed October 24, 2012
  • Worldwide pirate attacks at lowest level since 2008
  • Decline due to a steep drop in piracy off coast of Somalia
  • Watchdog warns now is not time to be complacent
  • Attacks increase in West Africa and Indonesia

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Sea piracy has fallen to its lowest level worldwide since 2008, as policing by international naval forces has deterred pirates operating in the waters off Somalia, new figures from the piracy watchdog show.

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said there were 233 actual and attempted attacks on vessels globally in the first nine months of 2012, compared with 352 in the corresponding period last year.

The number of attacks by Somali pirates has fallen dramatically, with 70 attacks by the end of September, down from 199 in the same time frame in 2011 and the lowest number since 2009, according to the report, which was released on Monday.

Surviving a pirate attack
The fight to stop shipping piracy
Charting pirates with Twitter
Couple held captive by pirates speak out

How to fight piracy

Pottengal Mukundan, director of the IMB, said the decline was a reflection of the pre-emptive and disruptive counter-piracy tactics used by international navies, as well as deployment of on-board security measures like armed guards.

"It's good news that hijackings are down, but there can be no room for complacency; these waters are still extremely high-risk and the naval presence must be maintained," he said.

The European Union, NATO and a multi-national naval force called Combined Task Force 151 have conducted anti-piracy missions in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia since 2009.

"There is no alternative to their continued presence as long as Somali pirates threaten major trade routes in this region," Mukundan added.

Worldwide, pirates have killed six and taken 448 crew hostage in 2012, according to the report.

It noted piracy had increased in West Africa, off the coasts of Nigeria, Benin and Togo.

Pirates hijack Greek-operated tanker off Togo coast

Attacks there were often violent and targeted tankers carrying refined oil products that can be easily sold, it added.

"There continues to be a serious problem with under-reporting of attacks in this area," Mukundan said.

"This may be because of a fear of reprisals or a feeling that little will change as a result."

In Asia, the waters off Indonesia were most prone to pirate attacks, with 51 incidents, up from 30 in 2011.

The report said the attacks were usually opportunistic and targeted ships at anchor.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 7:27 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.