International piracy monitors say Somali pirates have seized fewer ships this year, despite a record number of attempted hijackings.
The European Union's anti-piracy force said Tuesday that pirate attacks are up about 15 percent this year, but the number of ships actually seized is down by half.
The International Maritime Bureau, which tracks pirate attacks, has reported a similar trend. The IMB says Somali pirates seized six ships in October of 2010. But in October of this year, the pirates were unable to hijack any vessels, despite launching at least 14 attacks.
A spokesman for the maritime watchdog, Cyrus Mody, told VOA that international naval patrols in the region have adopted a more proactive strategy against the pirates, targeting pirate “mother ships,” from which pirates launch smaller skiffs.
The EU Naval Force credited merchant ships for using new techniques to evade pirate attacks. Officials report more of the vessels also have armed guards on board, who in some cases have deterred attempted hijackings.
Officials say Somali pirates now receive an average $4.7 million in ransom to release captured vessels and their crews.
More than 30 warships are now patrolling the waters off Somalia, including the Somali coast, the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden.
Article by VOA News