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Somali pirates down but not out

Oct 24, 2013
Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden

Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden

Courtesy Reuters

Pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia are at a seven-year low because of tougher ship security and more Western naval patrols, the United Nations reported this week. Good news, no doubt, but if you’re thinking about dusting off those voyaging plans for the Horn of Africa, you might want to think again.

While commercial vessels are faring better against pirates in those waters, that doesn’t mean it will be anything close to smooth sailing for pleasure craft. Take it from the European Union Naval Force, which cited an Oct. 11 attack on a supertanker as a sign that all is still not well.

“Because of their vulnerability, it is highly recommended that all sailing yachts, under their own passage, should remain out of the high-risk area (the Southern Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Western Indian Ocean),” the EUNF said in an advisory last week. “The fragile situation in Somalia has not changed, and pirates know that there are still life-changing riches to be made at sea. If given the opportunity to attack a ship, they will take it, actively hunting ‘soft targets.’”

To further drive home the point, the EUNF said that more than $330 million was paid in ransom to pirates between 2009 and 2012. “The pirates only have to be lucky once; vessels sailing in the high-risk area have to be vigilant every time,” it said.

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