The International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has released its 2017 Piracy Report, which shows that a total of 180 incidents of maritime piracy and armed robbery were reported in that year. That is the lowest annual number since 1995, according to the IMB.
The report states that 136 vessels were boarded; there were 22 attempted attacks; 16 vessels were fired upon; and six vessels were hijacked. Additionally, 91 crew members were taken hostage, while 75 were kidnapped and taken from their vessels. Three crewmembers were killed in 2017 and six injured.
Despite those lower overall numbers, there are a few areas that saw an increase in pirate activity last year.
In the Gulf of Guinea, 36 incidents were reported to the IMB, with 10 kidnapping incidents involving 65 mariners in or around Nigerian waters. Of the 16 vessels world-wide that reported being fired upon, seven of them were in this region.
“Although the number of attacks is down this year in comparison with last year, the Gulf of Guinea and the waters around Nigeria remain a threat to seafarers. The Nigerian authorities have intervened in a number of incidents helping to prevent incidents from escalating,” said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB.
Somalia also saw an increase of reported incidents in 2017 with nine, up from just two in 2016. One specific incident saw armed pirates east of Mogadishu fire rocketpropelled grenades at a containership after their boarding attempts were evaded. The grenades missed, and six of the pirates involved were later captured by the European Union Naval Force. They were then transferred to the Seychelles, charged with “committing an act of piracy,” and could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
“This dramatic incident, alongside our 2017 figures, demonstrates that Somali pirates retain the capability and intent to launch attacks against merchant vessels hundreds of miles from their coastline,” said Mukundan.
Piracy numbers were down slightly from 2016 in Indonesia, and the report noted that Indonesian Marine Police patrols continue to be effective in the country’s 10 designated safe anchorages. The document explained that elsewhere in Southeast Asia, reported incidents are up sharply, especially in the Philippines. The majority of incidents in the Philippines (22 were reported in 2017) were low-level attacks on anchored vessels, mainly at the ports of Manila and Batangas. In the first quarter of 2017, vessels sailing off the Southern Philippines were boarded and their crews were kidnapped, but alerts broadcast by the IMB’s Piracy Reporting Center (PRC), on behalf of the Philippine authorities, have since helped to avoid further successful attacks.
Launched in 1991, the IMB PRC is a 24-hour manned center that provides the maritime industry, governments and response agencies with timely and transparent data on armed robbery incidents received directly from the master or owner of vessels. All attacks reported last year can be viewed online on the 2017 IMB Live Piracy Map.
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