Somali Pirate attacks 'down 65 per cent'
30 October 2012
The number of pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia has fallen by more than 65 per cent over the last 12 months, Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt has said.
Burt's announcement in Parliament was supported by the latest data from the EU Naval Force (EUNAVFOR), which operates alongside NATO's Operation Ocean Shield and the US-led Combined Maritime Forces in patrolling the Gulf of Aden and nearby shipping lanes.
The EUNAVFOR statistics, released today, show that the number of attacks was down from 176 in 2011 to just 35 so far in 2012.
The figures also show that there are currently five ships and 143 individuals held hostage by Somali pirates, while just 75 pirates have been prosecuted.
"The government continues to provide support to the multi-national naval operations off the coast of Somalia, for example the Operational Commander and Headquarters for the EU's counter-piracy operation; and an asset to the Combined Maritime Forces throughout 2012, for counter-piracy tasking as part of the force's wider operation," Burt told Parliament.
"These measures are having an impact. Piracy attacks are down by 65 per cent over the last 12 months and whereas there were 47 hijackings in 2010, there have only been five so far this year.
"The government also continues to support regional maritime capacity building projects in Somalia and the wider Horn of Africa."
An EUNAVFOR spokesman told DefenceManagement.com that the decline in attacks was down to several factors, including an improvement in the way intelligence was gathered about failed attacks on merchant ships, allowing the interception of a greater number of attack boats.
Industry is also said to have helped by adhering more closely to advice set out in the Best Management Practices 4 guide, which includes instructions on manoeuvring, increasing speed and installing barbed wire, water hoses and dummy guards to deter attacks.
The monsoon season, which typically sees a lull in piratical activity, was also "very bad" this year, the spokesman said, and authorities in Puntland were said to have been more effective in taking action against pirates on shore. As well as this the use of private armed guards increased in the last 12 months.
The figures were "no reason for complacency", the spokesman added. "We consider this a tactical success which is very much reversible. We have had some disruptions in the past two weeks, so we don't consider piracy over.
"The pirates are getting out again now that the weather is clearing. I cannot predict how it will be, but we are ready for an increase again of at least a tenth."