The latest IMB Piracy Report shows 188 piracy incidents in the first nine months of 2013, down from 233 for the same period last year. Hostage-taking has also fallen markedly, with 266 people taken hostage this year, compared with 458 in the first three quarters of 2012.
In the first nine months of 2013, IMB's global figures show pirates hijacked 10 vessels, fired at 17, and boarded 140. A further 21 attacks were thwarted. In total 266 crew were taken hostage and 34 kidnapped. One seafarer was killed, 20 were injured, and one is reported missing.
IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan urged caution: "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."
Attacks in seas around Somalia continued to fall dramatically, with just 10 incidents attributed to Somali pirates this year, down from 70 in the same nine months of 2012. IMB attributes this improvement to the actions of naval forces engaged in anti-piracy operations, security teams on board vessels, ships complying with the industry's best management practices, and the stabilizing influence of the Central Government of Somalia.
"The vital role of the navies off the coast of Somalia should not be underestimated. Their presence ensures that pirates do not operate with the impunity they did before," said Mukundan.
As monsoons subside in the northwest Indian Ocean the weather will become more conducive for small pirate skiffs to operate again.
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