The Wall Street Journal specifically spoke about pirate activity off the coast of Somalia, an infamous area where the U.S. is looking at the effects. Despite the stigma of Somali pirate activities, the new wave of attacks seems to be only a slight uptick and not necessarily the sign of a resurgence. In fact, previous efforts to stem piracy in this area seem to have been effective.
The source quoted General Thomas Waldhauser of the United States Marine Corps and United States Africa Command on the role of shipping in particular in reducing the number of encounters with pirates.
"Some of the reasons piracy went down to zero here is because of the security measures the shipping industry has taken," the General said. "We want to make sure the industry continues not to be lax in that." He added that "we're not ready to say there's a trend there yet, but we will continue to watch it."
The Aris 13 Hijacking
An incident involving an oil tanker gained press in March, potentially adding to the worries of a new wave of piracy. Reuters said that suspected pirates seized an oil tanker named Aris 13 near Somalia, eventually steering it to Alula. The size of the ship and the timing of the hijacking, five years since the previous year a similar case occurred there, are both possibly significant.
"The Gulf of Aden area had a greater variety of pirate attacks."
Before the attack, the vessel was traveling to Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, from Djibouti. The fact that this happened so close to the ship's final stop may lead to reluctance to traffic in the region, should more reports along these lines continue.
The BBC more recently reported on a different attack a month later, when a cargo ship, the Al Kausar, was also hijacked while en route to a different Somali city, Bosaso. This article also said that the Aris hijackers seem to have relinquished it "without conditions" later on.
Another report, this one from Maritime Executive, said that China's navy played a role in resolving the Aris hijacking, apprehending three possible pirates and also going after other ships later on.
Piracy facts and figures
All of this news may unfairly put the focus on one region. The International Chamber of Commerce Commercial Crime Services said that there were 191 reported incidents in 2016 alone. The organization showed the sites where pirates struck based on region and the type of encounter.
While most of the pirated vessels in the Singapore and Thailand areas were boarded, the site said, the Gulf of Aden area, between Somalia and Yemen, had more variety, including cases when pirates hijacked or fired upon their targets. Other hotspots for piracy in 2016 included the Gulf of Guinea on the other side of the African continent and the Caribbean coast of upper South America.
Without assuming too much about this apparent uptick, companies may still need to revitalize their global sourcing practices.