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February 2nd, 2012

IMO Looks Back at 12 Months of Progress in Combating Piracy

The International Maritime Organization has released data to mark 12 months of battling piracy. According to the statistics, the number of vessels held captive by Somali pirate gangs has dropped from 33 ships in February to 13 at the beginning of December. Further, the number of seamen being held captive by Somali pirates has dropped from 733 in February to 265 in December.

The number of attacks reported also declined from about 45 per month in January 2011 to 14 per month reported in November 2011. Also, there has been a decline in the proportion of successful pirate attacks carried out. This proportion was 20% in January 2011, and dropped to 7% in November 2011.

According to the International Maritime Organization, throughout 2011, it engaged at the political level through the United Nations Security Council to bring about an end to the piracy scourge. Specifically, the organization focused on increasing accessibility to the agency’s guidelines as well as its best management practices guidance. This was done to ensure that members were aware of how best to access naval protection and avoid pirate attacks. The International Maritime Organization in 2011 also addressed the often contentious issue of having armed security guards available on vessels.

In spite of all this progress, it is clear to maritime piracy lawyers that we are still far from seeing the end of piracy. The number of attacks may have declined over the past couple of months, but there is evidence that Somali pirate gangs have begun to attack in swarms or groups of pirates in order to destabilize a ship quicker.

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