We’ve been watching with interest and shock as the piracy stories have unfolded this week. I’m sure most of us think of Peter Pan when we think of Pirates, and some of us even enjoyed a round of Grog on ‘International talk like a pirate day’ in September. However, I’m betting that not many of us were aware of just how serious a threat piracy still is today. The latest statistics released by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) reported that acts of piracy committed up to late October 2008 have included 115 vessels boarded, 31 vessels hijacked, and 23 vessels fired upon, seeing a total of 581 crew members taken hostage, nine kidnapped, nine killed and seven missing, presumed dead.
It seems incredible that we are only just hearing about these two now – what is it that’s made these acts of piracy so much more interesting to the media than any of the other 115 so far this year? The ICC-CCS has a live map of reported pirate attacks, and it makes for pretty scary viewing, with red dots as close to home as the north coast of Africa and Italy.
Despite the massive media interest, there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of information on the actual status of the situation though. Apparently “Shipping experts” have called for governments to increase efforts to stop piracy – shock! The owner of the Siruis Star is negotiating with the pirates aboard his oil-laden ship. Less is being reported about the Japanese cargo ship seized on Saturday or the Turkish chemical ship seized the same day, or the Ukranian arms ship seized in September….. You see where I’m going with that point.
We just hope that the crews in the midst of these current, hotly covered events – and those who are carrying less ‘valuable’ goods – manage to get through their ordeals unharmed. We’ll be watching this space.