Global piracy has fallen to a seven-year low, but attacks off the coast of Nigeria have surged by a third, the International Maritime Bureau said.
There were 188 piracy incidents in the first nine months of 2013, down from 233 in the same period last year, and the number of hostages taken declined to 266 from 458, according to the IMB’s latest report.
In the first nine months of the year, pirates hijacked 10 ships, fired at 17 and boarded 140. One seafarer was killed, 20 were injured and one is reported missing. A further 21 attacks were thwarted.
“Although the number of attacks is down overall, the threat of attacks remains, particularly in the waters off Somalia and in the Gulf of Guinea. It is vital that ship masters continue to be vigilant as they transit these waters,” IMB director Pottengal Mukundan said.
Attacks in the seas around Somalia continued to decline dramatically with just 10 incidents attributed to Somali pirates this year down from 70 in the first nine months of 2012.
The London-based IMB linked the decline to the increased effectiveness of international navies, the deployment of security teams on ships and the stabilizing influence of the Somali government.
The Gulf of Guinea, including Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast, has replaced Somalia as the world’s piracy hotspot with more 40 attacks, seven hijackings and 132 crew taken hostage in the first nine months of the year.
Nigeria accounted for 29 incidents, up from 21 a year ago. Two ships were hijacked, 11 boarded and 13 fired on.
Pirates, often heavily armed and violent, are targeting vessels and their crews along the coast, rivers, anchorages, ports and surrounding waters. In many cases, they ransack the vessels and steal the cargo, usually gas oil.
In a separate report, Danish security firm Risk Intelligence estimated 117,000 metric tons of oil products worth about $100 million have been stolen by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea since 2010.
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