Global Piracy Falls to Lowest Level Since 1998: IMB

Wednesday January 11, 2017

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Tuesday announced that global piracy in 2016 reached the lowest levels since 1998.

Overall in 2016, 150 vessels were boarded, 12 vessels were fired upon, seven were hijacked, and 22 attacks were thwarted, says IMB.

However, while global piracy overall dropped to 18 year lows, IMB notes that more crew were kidnapped at sea in 2016 than any year over the last decade, and marked a threefold increase from 2015.

62 kidnappings for ransom across 15 separate incidents are reported to have occurred in 2016, with more than half of those occurring off West Africa.

"The continued fall in piracy is good news, but certain shipping routes remain dangerous, and the escalation of crew kidnapping is a worrying trend in some emerging areas," said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB.

"The kidnappings in the Sulu Sea between East Malaysia and the Philippines are a particular concern."

The Gulf of Guinea maintained its status as a hotspot in 2016, says IMB, adding that 34 crew captured across nine separate incidents, with three vessels hijacked in the region.

A noticeable increase in attacks were reported off Nigeria, with 36 incidents reported in 2016 compared to just 14 in 2015.

Indonesian piracy incidents declined from 108 in 2015 to 49 in 2016, but an "overwhelming majority" were low level thefts, with vessels boarded in all but three of those incidents, reports IMB.

IMB says it is urging governments to investigate and identify kidnappers, punishing offenders in accordance with the law.

"Shipmasters should follow the latest best management practices and where possible take early action to avoid being boarded. They should inform the IMB PRC or regional counter piracy centres for help and advice," said Mukundan.

In July, IMB said an increasing number of vessels were being hijacked for crew ransoms rather than for tankers cargoes.