The ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has reported 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 first nine months of 2021 – 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 a welcome, IMB PRC warns that seafarers must remain vigilant as violence against crew remains high in many areas of the world.
Decrease in Gulf of Guinea
The Gulf of Guinea region recorded 28 incidents of piracy and armed robbery in the first nine months of 2021, in comparison to 46 for the same period in 2020. Most notably, Nigeria only reported four incidents in the first nine months of 2021, in comparison to 17 in 2020 and 41 in 2018. Crew kidnappings in the region have dropped with only one crew member kidnapped in Q3 2021 , compared to 31 crew members 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.
“We welcome the decrease of piracy and armed robbery attacks in the Gulf of Guinea and the efforts taken by maritime authorities in the region,” said Michael Howlett, Director, ICC International Maritime Bureau. “However, there needs to be sustained efforts to ensure the continued safety of seafarers as they transport essential goods throughout the region. Coastal States must redouble their coordination and security measures to ensure that piracy and armed robbery incidents continue to decline.”
The overall reduction of piracy and armed robbery incidents in the region is a testament to enhanced maritime security and response coordination measures adopted by regional and national authorities, according to IMB. Despite these gains, IMB warns that the risk to crew remains high in the region and that such efforts must therefore be sustained.
Worrying signs in Singapore Straits
The Singapore Straits reported 20 incidents of armed robbery – the highest number recorded since 1991. Reported incidents in the Singapore Straits are 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 underway. In four incidents, crew were either threatened, assaulted, or injured… read more. (Source – Maritime Cyprus/ICC/ IBM).