Pirate attacks continue to disrupt trade

Piracy on the high seas continues to disrupt trade, raising security concerns and affecting the operation and insurance costs for ships, says Clarkson Research Services.

The causes of piracy are usually economic, with geography also being key. In the year to date, 85 piracy attacks have been reported globally, down from 142 in the same period last year.

While the overall incidence of piracy has fallen since 2012 (when nearly 350 attacks were reported), the number of incidents currently remains significant, and is likely to be underestimated. In 2016  six ships have been reported captured by pirates, down from 10 vessels in full year 2015. In 2011 just shy of 30 ships were captured.

To date this year piracy attacks have been most prevalent in West Africa, with the region accounting for 35% of reported incidents (30 ships).

Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea has increased, with Nigerian militants seeking new funding sources. Lower oil prices have made the theft of oil cargoes less financially attractive, leading pirates to focus on kidnap. Four of the six ships reported captured in the year to date were sailing in West Africa.

Unlike a few years ago, no vessels have been reported captured in East Africa or the Gulf of Aden in 2016 so far. This compares with 25 ships reported captured in this region in 2010 when Somali piracy was at its most active. Aggressive responses in the waters off East Africa have led to a dramatic decline in the number of attacks 17 ships average a year 2013 to 2015, down from.an average of 105 attacks a year between 2010 and 2012.

There were 22 reported piracy attacks in South East Asia making up  26% of incidents. In the Strait of Malacca the focus has been on cargo theft.

Reported attacks year to date are down 75% year-on-year, with an average of 163 ships attacked by pirates in South East Asia in the years 2012 to 2015. Lower commodity prices have made the economics of siphoning oil and gas less attractive Only two vessels so far have been reported captured in 2016.