Unreported acts of piracy distort overall figures - experts
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Somali piracy still poses a significant threat as numbers remain high
and criminals remain heavily armed, say experts, who maintain that
figures showing a reduction in Somali piracy mask the true numbers.
While International Maritime Bureau (IMB) statistics covering 2012
depict a reduction in Somali piracy, now relegating the country to
second place in number of acts of overall piracy, the danger faced from
Somalian Pirates in the Gulf of Aden are as potent as ever, according to
maritime security company Typhon.
Somalia’s pirates are still responsible for around 2/3 of the world’s
hijackings, and attack more steaming ships than any other pirates in the
Global pirate attacks on ships fell to 297 in 2012, compared with 439 in
2011, and was at its lowest since 2008 when 293 incidents were
recorded, according to the IMB.
About 10 percent of those attacks resulted in the ship being
successfully hijacked. Twenty eight vessels were taken in 2012, down
from 45 in 2011 and 53 in 2010. Of those 28, 14 were commandeered by
Somali gangs, half the number taken in 2011, said the IMB, which has
been monitoring global piracy since 1991.
As of March 13, 47 incidences of piracy and armed robbery at sea have
been recorded this year, and three hijackings. Somali pirates are
holding five vessels and 65 hostages.
According to Typhon, the statistics that show a fall in the region are
somewhat misleading. “With the cost of piracy to business rocketing,
companies are now finding ways to avoid the costly reporting process
that takes place when an act of piracy has been endured,” the company
Ant Sharp, CEO of Typhon Maritime Security explained, “Ships who report
acts of piracy are then required to dock for long periods lasting up to a
year to undergo investigation. This means severe disruption at a high
cost to ships carrying valuable cargo. A third of the ships hit by
pirates are tankers carrying crude oil or chemical products.
“Added on to these delays is the hike in insurance premiums then
suffered by the shipping company, who see their profits hit from two
angles despite being the victims. This lead to a situation where if an
act of piracy takes place where no injury or heavy duty damage is
sustained, it is becoming an increasingly common practice to deal with
the incident internally.”
The drastic reduction in piracy is largely due to the presence of
international warships around the Gulf of Aden and the use of private
maritime security companies. So far, not a single ship with armed guards
has been taken by pirates - although naval officers and other piracy
specialists say hired guards can be excessively trigger-happy and have
fired on innocent fishermen from India, Oman and Yemen.