KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A maritime watchdog says sea piracy worldwide fell by 54 percent in the first half of 2012, led by a drop in Somali piracy.

The International Maritime Bureau says 177 attacks were reported from January to June, down from 266 in the same period last year. It says 20 vessels were hijacked worldwide with 334 crew members taken hostage.

It says attacks off Somalia's coast plunged to 69 in the first six months, down from 163 over the same period a year ago, thanks to international naval patrols as well as increased vigilance by ships.

It said Monday that the decline in Somali piracy was offset by a worrying rise in attacks in the Gulf of Guinea off western Africa, where 32 cases were reported, up from 25 last year.

Earlier on HuffPost: