The International Maritime Bureau’s latest quarterly report on “Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships” recorded a total of 66 incidents worldwide in the first three months of 2013.
This is down markedly from the 102 incidents reported for the corresponding period in 2012.
In the first three months of 2013, four vessels were hijacked, 51 vessels were boarded, seven were fired upon and four reported attempted attacks. Seventy five crew members were taken hostage, 14 kidnapped and one killed, according to the IMB.
In a separate report, the commercial shipping publication reports that armed hijackers pose a growing threat off Nigeria's oil-rich coast, where commercial ships do not enjoy the protection of naval security that has dramatically reduced Somali piracy on the other side of Africa.
The Gulf of Guinea region, which includes Nigeria, is an increasingly important source of oil, cocoa and metals for world markets, although international navies are not actively engaged in counter-piracy missions in the region.
"The Gulf of Guinea presents the most complex maritime security environment for commercial vessels today, due to the range of attacks from smash and grab robberies to hijackings and abductions," said Rory Lamrock, intelligence analyst with security firm AKE.