Latest figures from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB) show that reported incidents of piracy have fallen to their lowest level for 20 years. However, the IMB warns that piracy continues to pose a threat to seafarers in some area, with kidnapping and hostage-taking still a risk off the coasts of West Africa and South East Asia.
The number of attacks reported in the third quarter of 2016 fell to 42, the lowest since 1996. However, since the start of the year, pirates armed with guns or knives took 110 seafarers hostage and kidnapped 49 crew for ransom. More than a quarter of all captures took place in Nigeria, followed by Indonesia, Malaysia, Guinea and Ivory Coast. Over the past nine months, five crew members were assaulted, six were injured and five threatened by pirates.
The IMB comments that it is encouraged by the efforts of national and international authorities, and the shipping industry, to keep piracy down, but that the threat to crews remains, “and it is therefore necessary for shipmasters and response agencies to remain vigilant”.
Recent incidents reported to the IMB’s worldwide Piracy Reporting Centre include the following.
- Armed pirates boarded and hijacked a tug towing a barge around 62 nautical miles off Tanjung Kidurong, Bintulu, Sarawak, Malaysia on 25 October, took the 10 crew hostage, stole navigation equipment, crew’s personal belongings and part of the cargo, and then escaped.Robbers boarded a tanker anchored at Callao, Peru on 21 October during bunkering operations, stole ship’s property and escaped.
- Six people armed with guns attacked and boarded a cargo ship around eight nautical miles off Sibutu Island, Philippines on 20 October. The security alert was activated and all non-essential crew retreated to the citadel. The robbers kidnapped two crew members, stole crew personal belongings and escaped.