Piracy incidents plummet

by | 15 Oct 2021 | International News, RSA News

Enhanced maritime security and response coordination measures adopted by regional and national authorities appear to be doing the trick, with the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reporting the lowest number of reported piracy and armed robbery incidents for the first nine months of any year since 1994.

IMB’s latest global piracy report recorded 97 incidents of piracy and armed robbery for the period under review – the lowest level of reported incidents since 1994. In 2021, IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) reported 85 vessels boarded, nine attempted attacks, two vessels fired upon and one vessel hijacked. 

Reported incidents are down to their lowest level in decades, but violence against seafarers has continued, with 51 crew kidnapped, eight taken hostage, five threatened, three injured, two assaulted and one killed, according to the latest IMB statistics.

While the reduction of reported incidents is welcome, IMB PRC warns that seafarers must remain vigilant as violence against crew remains high in many areas of the world.

The Gulf of Guinea recorded a decrease, with 28 incidents during the first nine months, compared to 46 for the same period in 2020.

Most notably, says the report, Nigeria only reported four incidents compared to 17 last year and 41 in 2018.

Crew kidnappings in the region have dropped with only one crew member kidnapped in Q3 2021, compared to 31 taken in five separate incidents during Q3 2020.

All Q3 incidents in 2021 were also against vessels at port anchorages whilst the average successful kidnapping location in Q3 2020 was approximately 100NM from land. 

And while the Gulf of Guinea may be looking good, there are worrying signs in the Singapore Straits, says the IMB, with 20 incidents recorded, the highest number since 1991.

This is up from 15 in 2020 and just one incident in 2019. These attacks are low-level and opportunistic in nature, but IMB warns that the perpetrators pose a direct threat to seafarers and vessels under way. In four incidents, crew were either threatened, assaulted, or injured.

Since its founding in 1991, IMB PRC remains a single point of contact to report all crimes of maritime piracy and armed robbery, 24 hours a day. Their prompt forwarding of reports, and liaison with response agencies, broadcasts to shipping via GMDSS Safety Net Services, and email alerts to CSOs, all provided free of charge, help the response against piracy and armed robbery and the security of seafarers globally.