More than 90% of the reported attacks in Southeast Asia resulted in pirates successfully boarding target vessels, according to the latest analysis of pirate attacks in Southeast Asia carried out by Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP).
The OBP’s State of Maritime Piracy Report, now in its fifth edition, analyzes the impacts of this crime during 2014 in the Western Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Guinea and, for the first time, in Southeast Asia.
At least 5,000 seafarers were attacked in Southeast Asia, the Gulf of Guinea, and Western Indian Ocean in 2014, the report said.
The report further shows that 800 seafarers were involved in incidents in South East Asia where violence or the threat of violence was specifically documented. Nearly 3,600 seafarers were on board vessels boarded by pirates in SE Asia, the study shows.
In the Gulf of Guinea, the number of reported attacks remained within historic patterns. However, the region faces a variety of challenges related to chronic under-reporting of incidents and an absence of prosecutions.
“We have observed that up to 70% of piracy-related incidents in the Gulf of Guinea are never reported, so we currently lack a complete understanding of the problem,” says Pottengal Mukundan, Director of the International Maritime Bureau. “This also makes it difficult to assess the extent of the threats seafarers face in this region.”
Total economic cost of piracy in the region was estimated at USD 983 million for 2014.
In the Western Indian Ocean, OBP found that while naval mandates, recommended industry self-protection practices and the size of the High Risk Area remain unchanged, the observed commitment of naval assets and use of vessel protection measures such as increased speed and rerouting by merchant vessels continued to decrease, resulting in the total economic cost dropping by 28% in 2014. Total economic cost for 2014 is estimated at USD 2.3 billion.
Alarmingly, the perceived reduction in the piracy threat has also resulted in more foreign fishing vessels returning to areas close to the coast of Somalia, OBP said.
Alan Cole, Head of UNODC’s Global Maritime Crime Programme notes, “These provocations are similar to those that triggered piracy off the coast of Somalia in the first place. We are already seeing an upturn in regional piracy incidents since the beginning of the year.”
Finally, the report recognizes that seafarers across the globe are the primary victims of piracy and armed robbery at sea. A chilling example of this are the twenty-six high-risk hostages from the Naham 3 who remain in pirate captivity in Somalia today, more than three years after the initial hijacking of their ship.
“The evidence shows that piracy continues to be a world-wide threat to seafarers. There are specific contexts that distinguish each region, but there is a common lesson in the need to address piracy through cooperation, vigilance, and sustained effort by all actors across the maritime sector,” said Admiral Sir James Burnell-Nugent.
The Report will be officially launched today at the Army and Navy Club (the Rag), London, where a panel of experts will address key issues and answer questions.
Image: EU CMR