One hundred and two incidents of piracy and armed robbery have been reported for the first quarter of 2012, with dangerously increasing numbers in West African waters, according to figures released today in the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) global piracy report.
In total, 11 vessels were reported hijacked worldwide, with 212 crew members taken hostage and four crew killed. A further 45 vessels were boarded, with 32 attempted attacks and 14 vessels fired upon – the latter all attributed to either Somali or Nigerian pirates.
Ten reports were received from Nigeria in the beginning of 2012, equalling the same number reported in Nigeria for the whole of last year. A further attack in neighboring Benin has also been attributed to Nigerian pirates. The reports include the hijackings of one product and one chemical tanker, between which 42 crewmembers were taken hostage.
“Nigerian piracy is increasing in incidence and extending in range,” said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre, which has been monitoring piracy worldwide since 1991. “At least six of the 11 reported incidents in Nigeria occurred at distances greater than 70 nautical miles from the coast, which suggests that fishing vessels are being used as motherships to attack shipping further afield.”
Two crew members were killed when armed pirates boarded their bulk carrier 110 nautical miles off Lagos, Nigeria. Attacks in Nigerian coastal waters have further resulted in at least three crew kidnapped from their anchored vessel.
“While the number of reported incidents in Nigeria is still less than Somalia, and hijacked vessels are under control of the pirates for days rather than months, the level of violence against crew is dangerously high,” added Mr Mukundan.
Somalia continues to dominate figures with 43 attacks, including the hijacking of nine vessels and the taking hostage of 144 crew. Four dhows and a fishing vessel, softer targets that make for ideal motherships, were among the highjacked vessels. Somali pirates were also responsible for the hijacking of a Panamax bulk carrier at the end of March.
But while the number of 2012 incidents and hijackings are less than reports for the same period in 2011 (97 incidents, 16 hijackings), it is unlikely that the threat of Somali piracy will diminish in the short to medium term unless further actions are taken.
For the complete story including a map of all pirate activity, go to www.iccwbo.org.