Somali Piracy on the Decline

Morgan O'Rourke


February 27, 2013

The waters off the coast of Somalia have long been a hot spot for piracy, but recent efforts to curtail pirate activity in the region have been successful. In fact, according a global piracy report by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), pirate attacks on the world’s seas reached a five-year low in 2012, largely due to a significant reduction in incidents near Somalia.

Overall, 297 ships were attacked worldwide last year, compared to 439 in 2011. In Somali waters and the Gulf of Aden, only 75 ships reported attacks last year, compared to 237 in 2011 — a decrease of nearly 70%. The IMB attributes the positive trend to the increase in private, armed security teams on ships and the effectiveness of the navies that patrol the area. These vessels have successfully deterred pirates by taking action against mother ships and launching preemptive strikes.

“The continued presence of the navies is vital to ensuring that Somali piracy remains low,” said IMB Director Capt. Pottengal Mukundan. “This progress could easily be reversed if naval vessels were withdrawn from the area.”

But while piracy has been reduced on the east coast of Africa, it has picked up on the west coast, where 58 incidents were reported in the Gulf of Guinea, including 37 involving guns.

Morgan O’Rourke is editor in chief of Risk Management and director of publications for the Risk & Insurance Management Society, Inc. (RIMS)