LONDON - Preemptive strikes by naval forces, the deployment of private armed guards and protective measures by ships helped to almost halve the number of successful hijackings by Somali pirates last year, a maritime watchdog said on Thursday.
Seaborne gangs are making tens of millions of dollars in ransoms, and despite successful efforts to quell attacks in the Gulf of Aden, international naval forces have limited resources and vast distances to patrol in the Indian Ocean.
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB), which has been monitoring piracy worldwide since 1991, said in its latest report that Somali pirates continued to account for over half the total number of attacks worldwide.
The number of Somali incidents increased to 237 last year from 219 in 2010, but the number of successful hijackings fell to 28 vessels from 49 in 2010, the IMB said.
"Pre-emptive naval strikes, the hardening of vessels in line with the best management practices and the deterrent effect of privately contracted armed security personnel have all contributed to this decrease," IMB director Pottengal Mukundan said.