Piracy and armed robbery at sea have fallen to their lowest levels since 1995, despite a surge in kidnappings off West Africa, according to a report from the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB).
IMB’s global piracy report shows 98 incidents in the first half of 2016, compared with 134 for the same period in 2015. When piracy was at its highest, in 2010 and 2003, IMB recorded 445 attacks a year.
In the first half of 2016, IMB recorded 72 vessels boarded, five hijackings, and a further 12 attempted attacks, while nine ships were fired upon. Sixty-four crew were taken hostage onboard, down from 250 in the same period last year.
“This drop in world piracy is encouraging news. Two main factors are recent improvements around Indonesia, and the continued deterrence of Somali pirates off East Africa,” said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB, adding that the ships “need to stay vigilant, maintain security and report all attacks, as the threat of piracy remains, particularly off Somalia and in the Gulf of Guinea.”
Despite global improvements, kidnappings are on the rise, with 44 crew captured for ransom in 2016, 24 of them in Nigeria, up from 10 in the first half of 2015.
“In the Gulf of Guinea, rather than oil tankers being hijacked for their cargo, there is an increasing number of incidents of crew being kidnapped for ransom,” Mukundan said.
The Gulf of Guinea accounted for seven of the world’s 10 kidnapping incidents, with armed gangs boarding vessels 30 to 120 nautical miles from shore. IMB reported two further kidnap incidents off Sabah, where tugs and barges were targeted. And in early June, a tug and barge was hijacked off Balingian, Sarawak in Malaysia and its palm oil cargo stolen.
However, Indonesia has seen an improvement as low-level theft to ships at anchor has been brought down by introducing designated anchorages with improved security.
This has contributed to a fall in the number of incidents in Indonesia to 24 in the first six months of 2016, compared with 54 in the same period in 2015.