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Pirates prevail in African waters

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Pirate attacks off West Africa are growing more violent, according to the International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) latest global piracy report.

Although attacks worldwide are down 28%, some particularly violent attacks have occurred in West African waters.

“Nigerian piracy is increasing in incidence and extending in range,” IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan says.

“While the number of reported incidents in Nigeria is still less than Somalia, and hijacked vessels are under control of the pirates for days rather than months, the level of violence against crews is dangerously high.”

The report attributes the overall decrease in hijackings as due to the “application of best management practices and the increasing use of privately contracted armed security personnel”.

According to the Oceans Beyond Piracy report released in February and reported in Insurance News (the magazine) last month, the Somali pirate economy is worth nearly $US7 billion ($6.7 billion) – mainly the cost of military action to curtail piracy.

Since the first recorded Somali attacks in 2005, the markets for kidnap and ransom (K&R) and war risks cover have boomed.

Some marine insurers offer big discounts on premiums if a ship carries a security team or is separately covered for K&R.

International law firm Sheppard Mullin estimates that sales of marine K&R rose from nothing in 2008 when the cover was introduced to about $US125 million ($119.4 million) a year now. 

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