Monday May 21, 2018
NAIROBI, May 21 (Xinhua) -- The number of piracy incidents doubled
off the coast of East Africa in 2017 compared to 2016, an international
maritime body said in its latest report released on Monday.
This indicates that Somali criminal networks are still capable of
sophisticated attacks, according to the report by One Earth Future
(OEF)'s Oceans Beyond Piracy program.
The report calls for new approach to combat maritime threats as the
total number of piracy/armed robbery attacks against foreign vessels
increased to 54 in 2017 compared to 27 in 2016.
"Pirate activity in 2017 clearly demonstrates that pirate groups
retain their ability to organize and implement attacks against ships
transiting the region," said Maisie Pigeon, the report's lead author.
The organization said the total cost of Somali piracy remains within
the historical norm of the past three years, noting that there was a 13
percent decrease in the use of privately contracted armed security
personnel between January 2015 and December 2017.
The study says crew members of the FV Siraj still remain in captivity
after three years of hijack, noting that a total of 1,102 seafarers
were affected by piracy and armed robbery in the Western Indian Ocean
region in 2017.
"Additional threats complicate the maritime security picture in the
Western Indian Ocean region, including spillover into the maritime space
from the political conflict in Yemen," says the report.
According to maritime experts, Somali pirates tend to be well armed
with automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenade (RPG) and sometimes
use skiffs launched from mother vessels, which may be hijacked fishing
vessels or dhows, to conduct attacks far from the Somali coast.
The experts said lack of economic opportunities and the prevalence of
illegal fishing are pushing more Somalis to turn to piracy - partly as a
form of protest and partly because they see no other options.
"There are now a wide range of threats to shipping near the Horn of
Africa that have been complicated by the conflict and instability in
Yemen," said Phil Belcher, Marine Director of Intertanko.
"We are advising our members to consider a more comprehensive
security assessment to take into account other threats beyond
traditional piracy emanating from the regional conflict in Yemen,"
The report analyzes the human and economic impacts of maritime piracy
and robbery at sea in the Western Indian Ocean Region, the Gulf of
Guinea, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean.