energy centurion piracy togo

ENERGY CENTURION was hijacked off Togo in August 2012. Image via Enterprises Shipping and Trading

By Neena Rai

Pirates carried out 297 attacks in 2012, the fewest in five years, with ships reporting a big drop off Somalia, the International Maritime Bureau said Wednesday.

The number of people taken hostage in those attacks also dropped, with shippers taking increasingly elaborate measures like water hoses and barbed wire to protect their vessels.

Compared with 2011, there were about a third fewer attacks in 2012, the IMB said.

Only 75 ships reported coming under attack last year off Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, about two-thirds fewer than in 2011.

The IMB attributed the improved security to the increased presence of EU, NATO and other warships patrolling those waters.

But East and West Africa still remain hot spots for attacks, said IMB, a non-profit, non-governmental body that tracks trends in maritime crime on behalf of business worldwide.

Nigeria, a major supplier of both crude oil and cocoa to the U.S. and Europe, accounted for 27 of the 150 attacks recorded in East and West Africa last year, a big jump from 10 incidents recorded for that country in 2011.

Togo also saw attacks increase to 15 in 2012 from only five the year before.

Globally, 174 ships in total were boarded by pirates last year. The number of people taken hostage onboard dropped to 585 in 2012 from 802 in 2011.

-Write to Neena Rai at neena.rai@wsj.com twitter:@neenareporter

(c) 2013 Dow Jones & Company

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