Pirate attacks off the Horn of Africa have dropped significantly in
Washington, April 28, 2012
– A watchdog group of the international shipping industry reports that
thanks to the efforts of a coalition of navies patrolling the region,
pirate attacks off the Horn of Africa have dropped significantly in
recent months. From the beginning of the piracy crisis five years ago,
the United States has supported this multilateral approach and we will
continue supporting a range of initiatives to address this shared
The International Maritime Bureau reported April 23 that incidents of
sea piracy worldwide fell 28 percent in the first three months of this
year, paced largely by a sharp drop in seizures of vessels by
Somalia-based pirates in the waters off the Horn of Africa. There were
43 attacks there, including nine vessel hijackings, compared with 97
attacks a year ago. The agency attributed the decline to disruptive
actions and pre-emptive strikes by navies in the region.
Working with the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, an
international effort organized pursuant to a resolution by the United
Nations Security Council, the United States has contributed to this
reduction in several ways. Besides sending U.S. naval vessels to assist
with maritime patrols, we have encouraged commercial shipping lines
plying those waters to prevent and deter attacks from happening in the
first place. This is done by improving ship security and employing armed
security personnel. While the safety of ships’ crews is absolutely
critical, submitting to pirate ransom demands only ensures that future
crews will be taken hostage, and we discourage the payment of ransom.
To better adjudicate piracy cases, the U.S. has worked to enhance the
capacity of states in the region to prosecute and incarcerate suspected
pirates. We also are focusing on identifying and apprehending the
criminal conspirators who lead, manage and finance pirate operations.
Toward this end, the U.S. has indicted and is prosecuting two alleged
Somali pirate negotiators.
The only long-term solution to the region’s piracy crisis, however, is
re-establishing stability, responsive law enforcement and good
governance to Somalia, as well as providing Somalis with an alternative
to piracy. With four months left to complete the roadmap to end the
political transition there, Somalia is at a critical juncture. The U.S.
and its international partners are committed to working with the
Transitional Federal Government and other Somali leaders to seize the
opportunity to make progress toward greater security and stability.