Maritime piracy continues to decline in Q2

There was a continuation in the recent decline in the number of reported maritime piracy and armed robbery incidents in the second quarter, according to the latest report of the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB), published this week. There were 87 reported incidents in the first half of the year, down from 97 in the same period last year. In H1 63 vessels were boarded, 12 fired upon, four hijacked and eight other vessel attacks were hampered.

However, IMB said that the encouraging downward trend was marred by the hijacking at the end of June of a small Thai product tanker en route from Singapore to Songkhla, Thailand by six heavily armed pirates, who stole 1,500mt of gas oil. IMB said that this incident followed a similar pattern to a series of product tanker hijackings in the region between April 2014 and August 2015 at intervals of about two weeks.

“To prevent criminal gangs carrying out attacks on other product tankers, the IMB PRC is calling on Malaysian and Indonesian authorities to take robust action, in the same vein as their response which brought perpetrators of the previous spate of attacks to justice”, said Mr Mukundan, Director, IMB.

The IMB said that cooperation between Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines was the fundamental reason for the overall decline in the number of reported incidents in and around the Philippines – from nine cases recorded in the first quarter of the year to just four cases in the second quarter. The number of mainly low-level attacks off Indonesia has also decreased, from 24 in H1 2016 to 19 so far in 2017.

The hijacking of an Indian dhow in early April was one of five incidents off Somalia reported in Q2. There were also three reports of vessels coming under fire and a bulk carrier being boarded by pirates in the Gulf of Aden. IMB said that Somali pirates still retained the skills and capacity to attack merchant ships far from coastal waters.

Pirates in Nigeria continue to dominate when it came to kidnappings. So far this year they have been responsible for the abduction of 31 crew in five reported incidents.

The IMB, in association with Oceans Beyond Piracy, has proposed a ‘Community of Reporting’ – a project aimed at encouraging all stakeholders to share reports of piracy and armed robbery with the IMB. It said that it recognized the need to get a clearer understanding of the depth of under reporting in the Gulf of Guinea region.