Piracy remains a concern for ships that pass the Horn of Africa, although where piracy was once rampant in the Indian Ocean, the number of incidents have declined since 2011.
While the topic of piracy grips the public imagination — the success of the film “Captain Phillips” bears witness to this — not one single vessel was hijacked in the Indian Ocean this year, according to the United States Office of Naval Intelligence.
This is the fourth annual decline in pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia. The Independent reported that there were 46 hijackings in 2009 (the year the Maersk Alabama, the subject of the film Captain Phillips, was seized by Somali pirates), 47 hijackings in 2010, 14 in 2012 and none in 2013.
According to Quartz, pirate attacks are at the lowest level since 2006 because of an increased presence of international navies in and around the Indian Ocean; onshore al-Shabaab militants who have shifted tactics to guerrilla warfare; and vigilance among vessel owners, who have rerouted and fortified ships to combat piracy.
But let’s backtrack a bit and consider why Somali piracy started in the first place?
Amber Lyon reported on RYOT that Somali piracy started because “foreign companies are illegally over-fishing Somali waters and dumping large quantities of nuclear and hazardous waste off of Somalia’s coast.”
Although pirates have still attacked vessels off the Horn of Africa, only nine vessels were attacked, four of which were in the final two months of this year. No vessel was successfully hijacked by pirates.
Ships that pass by the west coast of Africa have been less fortunate this year, as 31 ships were attacked by pirates and nine of them were seized in the Gulf of Guinea.