Piracy incidents are dropping worldwide, but the hijackers are expanding their area of operation, the International Maritime Bureau said in a report issued on Wednesday.
There were 67 piracy incidents reported worldwide during the first quarter of the year, 35 of which were conducted by Somali pirates. That's a striking drop from the 102 attacks reported during the first quarter of last year.
"This marked reduction can be attributed to the continued presence and success of the navies in the Gulf of Aden along with the robust anti-piracy measures adopted by the merchant navy fleet," the report said.
Incidents include pirates boarding vessels, firing on ships, attempting attacks and hijackings.
But the report says Somali pirates are expanding their presence, spreading from the Gulf of Aden and the southern part of the Red Sea to the coasts off Kenya, Tanzania, the Seychelles, and even Madagascar in the Indian Ocean and Oman in the Arabian Sea.
"Somali pirates are dangerous and are prepared to fire their automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades at vessels in order to stop them," the report said.
The report cities IMB Director Captain Pottengal Mukundan saying, "attacks so far from the Somali coast can be possible only through the use of mother ships, some of whom have been destroyed by the navies of the various countries that are operating in the area."
Small boats and skiffs go to sea from the mother ships and permit pirates to travel greater distances.
"Such positive and robust action by the navies against mother ships, pirate skiffs and pirate action groups have been vital to keeping the attacks under control and must be sustained," Mukundan said.
Piracy incidents were also reported in Nigeria and Indonesia.
The maritime bureau is a division of the International Chamber Of Commerce, established to fight maritime crime and malpractice.