Sea piracy worldwide fell by 54% in the first half of 2012, led by a dramatic drop in Somali piracy, according to an international maritime watchdog. The International Maritime Bureau attributed the sharp drop to "pre-emptive and disruptive counter piracy tactics" by international navies patrolling in seas off Somalia as well as increased vigilance by ships, more of which now have private armed personnel on board.
The bureau said 177 attacks were reported worldwide from January to June, down from 266 in the same period last year. It said 20 vessels were hijacked worldwide, with 334 crew members taken hostage and at least four crew members killed. Attacks off Somalia's coast plunged to 69 in the first half of this year, down from 163 over the same period a year ago, it said. Somali pirates also hijacked fewer vessels with 13 seized, down from 21. "The naval actions play an essential role in frustrating the pirates. There is no alternative to their continued presence," says IMB's director.