World sea piracy falls to five-year low in 2012 as naval patrols deter Somali pirates

A maritime watchdog says global sea piracy fell to its lowest level in five years in 2012, thanks to a huge reduction in Somali piracy.

The International Maritime Bureau says 297 attacks were recorded worldwide last year, down sharply from 439 in 2011. It says 28 vessels were hijacked, with 585 crew members taken hostage and six killed during 2012.

It says only 75 attacks were reported off Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, down from 237 cases in 2011. However, east Africa remained among the worst-hit areas, along with west Africa.

The bureau praises international navies patrolling the African waters, saying their preemptive strikes and robust action against mother ships helped deter piracy.

It said Wednesday that naval presence must be maintained to ensure Somali piracy remains low.