With incidents of piracy notably down off the coast of Somalia this year there is a risk international attention will turn away from the 40 hostages still being held for ransom by suspected Somalia pirates.
This warning comes from Pottengal Mukundan, director of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).
“Some of those crew members have been held captive there for more than four years with fading hopes of immediate release,” Mukundan said, adding seafarers should not under-estimate the continuing threat of Somali piracy.
To date this year there have been only 10 incidents of piracy reported off Somalia.
On the other side of the African continent the number of incidents reported in Nigeria has also dropped noticeably down to 13 in the first nine months of the year compared to 29 in the same period last year.
Elsewhere in the Gulf of Guinea, Ghana recorded four incidents this year compared with none in 2013. This includes the hijacking of two product tankers – and theft of their cargoes – and a fishing vessel and the taking hostage of 86 crew members.
The IMB notes pirate attacks on the world’s seas have fallen for the third consecutive year but small tanker hijacks are escalating in South-East Asia.
The Bureau’s third quarter global piracy report notes a total of 178 incidents so far this year, down from 352 for same period in 2011. In the first nine months of 2014, pirates killed three crew members, kidnapped five from their vessels and took 369 seafarers hostage. A total of 17 vessels were hijacked, 124 were boarded and 10 were fired upon. There were 27 further reports of attempted attacks.
“It’s encouraging to see the decrease in maritime piracy and armed robbery over the last few years, thanks mainly to international navies deterring pirates off East Africa and improved on board security Mukundan said adding the new rise in attacks against small coastal tankers in south-east Asia was “worrying”.