A maritime group says piracy on the world's seas fell sharply in 2012, largely due to a dramatic decline off the coast of Somalia.
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) says 297 ships were attacked worldwide last year, compared to 439 the year before.
In the region of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, the number of reported pirate attacks fell by two-thirds, from 237 to 75. Hijackings in the region were cut in half to 14.
The IMB says the number of people taken hostage by pirates fell from 802 to 585.
The group credits better security aboard ships and international navy patrols for the decrease in pirate incidents off Somalia.
But it says “the threat and capacity of heavily armed Somali pirates remains strong.” The group says that as of late December, Somali pirates still held nearly 130 hostages.
Somali pirates have made hundreds of millions of dollars over the last five years capturing ships and holding the vessels and crews for ransom.
The IMB is reporting a rise in piracy incidents in other regions of Africa. It says incidents in Nigeria rose from 10 in 2011 to 27 last year. It also reports upward trends in the Gulf of Guinea region of West Africa and off the Ivory Coast.
In a Wednesday statement, IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan says “crews must remain vigilant, particularly in highly dangerous waters off East and West Africa.”