January 27, 2012: For the first time in five years worldwide pirate activity took a slight dip last year. The decline was only 1.4 percent, to 437 attacks. Most of the attacks were basically robbery and burglary. But ten percent resulted in ships (45) and crews (802 sailors) taken captive. Ship captures were down 15 percent compared to 2010. The Somali pirates accounted for 54 percent of attacks in 2011 and that number of attacks was up 8.2 percent over 2010. Obviously, the Somali pirates have been more active, but less successful, in the past year. That's largely because large ships within reach of the Somali pirates have installed better security (often including armed guards) and the international anti-piracy patrol has more effectively used its warships and patrol aircraft to frustrate pirate activities.
Piracy is growing off West Africa (mainly Benin and Nigeria), but this region still accounts for less than ten percent of pirate activity. Another hot spot is Indonesia, which accounts for about ten percent of pirate attacks. This activity was up 15 percent last year. Piracy was down in the South China Sea and off Bangladesh, two areas that have long suffered from piracy.