Piracy on the world's seas at a five-year low, with 297 ships attacked in 2012, compared with 439 in 2011, according to the ICC global piracy report.
Extracts from the International Chamber of Commerces (ICC) – International Maritime Bureau (IMB) annual report on piracy follow:
Worldwide figures were brought down by a huge reduction in Somali piracy, though East and West Africa remain the worst hit areas, with 150 attacks in 2012.
Globally, 174 ships were boarded by pirates last year, while 28 were hijacked and 28 were fired upon. IMB's Piracy Reporting Centre also recorded 67 attempted attacks. The number of people taken hostage onboard fell to 585 from 802 in 2011, while a further 26 were kidnapped for ransom in Nigeria. Six crewmembers were killed and 32 were injured or
In Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, just 75 ships reported attacks in 2012 compared with 237 in 2011, accounting for 25% of incidents worldwide. The number of Somali hijackings was halved from 28 in 2011 to 14 last year.
IMB says navies are deterring piracy off Africa's east coast, with pre-emptive strikes and robust action against mother ships. So too are private armed security teams and crews' application of "Best Management Practices".
Pirate mother ships and skiffs were reported in the Gulf of Oman, southern Red Sea and the Somali basin, with a number of attacks close to the Straits of Hormuz and the energy routes out of the Arabian Gulf. As of 31 December 2012, Somali pirates still held 104 hostages on eight ships and 23 more were detained on land, pending negotiations for their release.
As for West Africa, piracy is rising in the Gulf of Guinea, with 58 incidents recorded in 2012, including 10 hijackings and 207 crew members taken hostage. Pirates in this area are particularly violent, with guns reported in at least 37 of the attacks. Benin is an exception, showing a sharp fall from 20 incidents (including eight hijackings) in 2011 to two (including one hijacking) in 2012.
Elsewhere, in Southeast Asia four vessels were hijacked, including a Malaysian tanker which was subsequently recaptured in Vietnam in the last quarter of 2012.