Temporary security services are becoming increasingly common.

It’s good news for the shipping industry world over. The London-based International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau on Thursday reported that hostage-taking had fallen markedly with 266 people taken hostage this year as compared to 458 in the first three quarters of 2012. During the first nine months of 2013, IMB’s global figures showed that pirates hijacked 10 vessels, fired at 17, and boarded 140. A total of 266 crew were taken hostage and 34 kidnapped. One seafarer was killed, twenty were injured, and one is reported to be missing. In its report for 2012, the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against ships in Asia (RECAAP) too said there was “a marked improvement in the situation of piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia. The RECAAP is a multilateral agreement among Asian countries to share piracy-related information. The IMB website quoted its director Pottengal Mukundan cautioning, “Although the number of attacks is down overall, the threat of attacks remains, particularly in the waters off Somalia and in the Gulf of Guinea. It is vital that ship masters continue to be vigilant as they transit these waters”. The report said attacks in seas around Somalia continued to fall dramatically, with just 10 incidents attributed to Somali pirates this year, which is down from 70 in the same nine months of 2012. Mukundan said with monsoons subsiding in the NW Indian Ocean, “the weather will become more conducive for small pirate skiffs to operate again”. The focus has now shifted to the Gulf of Guinea, “a hotspot for violent piracy and ship hijacking for many years,” said the IMB report. “Pirates, often heavily armed and violent, are targeting vessels and their crews along the coast, rivers, anchorages, ports and surrounding waters. In many cases, they ransack the vessels and steal the cargo, usually gas and oil,” it added.

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