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Piracy figures up 20 percent for first part of 2008

Piracy in international waters is on the rise, according to a recent report issued by the Piracy Reporting Centre in Malaysia and the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

There have been 49 attacks in the first three months of 2008, most notably the seizing of the luxury cruise liner Le Ponant in April by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden. The 30 crewmembers were kept safe and well-fed and, after a tense week, the hostages were let go with no confirmed reports of a ransom payment. In the first three months of 2007, there were 41 confirmed attacks.

A total of 36 vessels have been boarded and one vessel hijacked this year. Six crewmembers have been kidnapped, three killed and one missing, according to the report. Nigeria is ranked as the No. 1 hotspot for piracy, accounting for a little more than 20 percent of the figures quoted. However, there have been no incidents in Indonesian and Malaysian waters, according to the report.

“It is essential that serious incidents are carefully analyzed and the lessons learned made available to all owners and their advisors who fall victim to serious attacks,” said IMB Director Capt. Pottengal Mukundan in the report. “This kind of data is invaluable in updating preventative and response measures on board vessels as well as identifying the pirates and the groups they operate in.”

Officials are encouraged that Malaysian waters no longer top the list of pirate-infested territories, although waters around Somalia continue to be notorious for the hijacking of vessels and the abduction of crew for ransom.

The IMB encourages all vessels and crew, as well as their corresponding countries, to report incidents of actual and attempted piracy and armed robbery to the Piracy Reporting Centre. For information, contact Mukundan at

-Elizabeth Ellis