Piracy drops to 20-year low: IMB

Piracy and armed robbery at sea have fallen to their lowest levels since 1995 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. There has been a surge in kidnappings off West Africa.

IMB director Pottengal Mukundan said that “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”.

Kidnappings are increasing, with 44 crew captured for ransom in 2016. More than half (24) were 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. Armed gangs boarded vessels between 30nm and 120nm from shore.

Indonesia has experienced a fall in  low-level theft to ships at anchor through the introduction of designated anchorages with improved security.