Somalia: Piracy Declines Dramatically, Report Insurers

Somali piracy could be eliminated within a few years if foreign navies continue their patrols off the country's coast, reports a major insurance company.

In a review of shipping losses in 2013, Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) says attacks off Somalia “have declined dramatically with only seven incidents in 2013 compared with 160 attacks in 2011".

But the threat of piracy remains, adds the review. It quotes the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) as saying “just one successful hijacking” could transform the situation, making continued naval patrols “absolutely vital”.

The review attributes the success in fighting piracy to the navies, to action by commercial shipping and to more stability in Somalia.

On the naval patrols, the review quotes the IMB: “They have been able to use aerial surveillance and interdict pirate mother ships before they can get into a position where they threaten shipping. They can also arrest and detain people on these vessels which cannot be done in any other way.”

Also, many merchant ships now carry private armed security guards and have shown “more determined resistance to approaches by small boats".

And on shore, the Allianz review says, the establishment of a central government in Mogadishu “has had a stabilising influence which has led to the local coastal communities rejecting pirates… Although the crime happens at sea, the root causes of piracy are ashore".