In spite of all the attention on the maritime piracy menace and increased patrolling along the Somali coastline, there has been a record increase in pirate attacks reported from around the globe this year.
According to the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur, there were a record 142 attacks during the first quarter of 2011. An overwhelming 70% of the attacks, or 97 of these, occurred off the Somali coastline. Last year during the same period of time, a total of 35 attacks had been recorded along this coastline.
The International Maritime Bureau is not only concerned about the fact that there has been a staggering increase in the number of pirate attacks recorded during the first three months of 2011, but also because it seems like pirate attacks are now becoming much more aggressive and violent. This can be seen in the injury and fatality statistics from the first three months of 2011. Between January and March 2011, pirate attacks accounted for seven crew members dead and 34 injured. During the corresponding period in 2006, only two crew members had been injured as a result of pirate attacks.
The International Maritime Bureau says that it is especially concerned that Somali pirates have been using dangerous techniques, like using firearms to attack large fuel carrying vessels, putting them in danger of explosions. Even as the United States breaks new ground in prosecuting pirates, sentencing them to hefty prison sentences, it remains clear to maritime lawyers that more, much more, needs to be done.
One thing that would help to contain the threat of piracy off the Somali coastline is to facilitate the quicker execution of justice for these crimes. For instance, the United Nations is currently looking at establishing special courts in Somalia to speed up the prosecution of pirates who are arrested. Currently, many of the pilots that are arrested are being released because of lack of sufficient courts in Somalia and in the nearby countries.