Canadian Underwriter

High-seas piracy continues to grow

February 6, 2004   by Canadian Underwriter

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While the modern version of piracy may be a far cry from Pirates of the Caribbean, the incidence of pirate attacks continues to grow, says the International Maritime Bureau (IMB). The division of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) says 445 piracy incidents were reported worldwide last year, up from 370 in 2002.
The toll in human terms was up to 21 lives, from 10 in 2002, while 71 crewmembers and passengers are listed as missing.
The majority of incidents occurred in Indonesian waters, while tighter controls in Malaysian waters saw attacks there dwindle. “The Malaysian success proves once again that when law enforcement agencies take these attacks seriously there will be a corresponding reduction in attacks,” says Capt. Pottengal Mukundan, director of the IMB.
Attacks are becoming increasingly more violent in nature, as well, with attacks using guns up to 100 from 68 in 2002, and the numbers of hostages taken almost doubling to 359.
Piracy attacks are more often the result of military operations aimed at hostage-taking for ransom, or “soft target” attacks on tugs and barges, the IMB reports. But the number of attacks on tankers is also up 22% year-over-year. “”That these ships carrying dangerous cargoes may fall temporarily under the control of unauthorized and unqualified individuals is a matter of concern, for both environmental and safety reasons,” says Capt. Mukundan.

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