The total number of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden and off Somalia so far this year has already exceeded the total figure for 2008, according to the International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC).

In 2008, there were 111 incidents including 42 vessels hijacked. So far in 2009, there have been 29 successful hijackings out of 114 attempted attacks.

The Gulf of Aden has been the site of 71 attacks this year, of which 17 resulted in successful hijacks. In 2008, there were 32 hijacks from a total of 92 attacks.

This year has seen a surge in activity off the east coast of Somalia, with 43 attacks so far compared to 19 in 2008.

There has also been an increase in the number of vessels fired upon in these regions. In 2008, there were 39 instances of vessels taking fire from pirates. Already this year there have been 54 cases.

“The reduction in successful hijackings can be partly attributed to the presence of international navies in the region,” said IMB director Pottengal Mukundan.

He also added that the number of cases in which shots were fired could indicate an increased willingness by pirates to use aggression.

In 2008, a total of 815 crew members were taken hostage from vessels hijacked in the Gulf of Aden and off the east coast of Somalia. The total number of hostages taken in these regions during 2009 already stands at 478.

The IMB has urged all ship masters and owners to report all incidents of actual and attempted piracy, armed robbery and suspicious activity to the PRC.

These reports are passed to law enforcement agencies and governments in order to trigger the appropriate action and evaluate the severity of the problem in their waters, said the IMB.

By staff writer