A total of 156 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported to the ICC International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre in the first nine months of 2018 compared to 121 for the same period in 2017, the IMB said in its latest quarterly report.
The 2018 figures can be further broken down to 107 vessels boarded, 32 attempted attacks, 13 vessels fired upon and four vessels hijacked, although no vessels were reported as hijacked in the second or third quarter of 2018. This marks the first time since 1994 when no vessel hijackings have been reported in two consecutive quarters.
Despite this statistic, the number of crew members held hostage increased compared to the same period in 2017, from 80 incidents to 112 by the third quarter of 2018.
Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB, said: “While the record low number of hijackings in the second and third quarters of 2018 is of course to be celebrated, incidents of maritime piracy and armed robbery remain common. ICC urges governments to leverage the timely data available from the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre to concentrate resources in these hotspots.”
Shifting piracy trends in the Gulf of Guinea
In the first nine months of 2018, the Gulf of Guinea accounted for 57 of the 156 reported incidents. While most of these incidents have been reported in and around Nigeria, where 41 of the reported incident took place. There has also been a noticeable increase in the number of vessels boarded at the Takoradi anchorage, in Ghana.
The IMB noted that 37 of the 39 crew kidnappings for ransom taking place around the world have occurred in the Gulf of Guinea region, in seven separate incidents.
A total of 29 crew members were kidnapped in four separate incidents off Nigeria—including a 12-crew kidnapping from a bulk carrier off Bonny Island, Nigeria in September 2018.
In other world regions, incidents of piracy and armed robbery are comparatively low. No new incidents were reported off the coast of Somalia in the third quarter of 2018, while two fishermen were reported kidnapped off Semporna, Malaysia in September 2018.
Incidents other regions, including some Latin America countries, border on low-level opportunistic theft. Nevertheless, the IMB continues to encourage all masters and crew members to be aware of these risks and report all incidents to the 24-hour manned PRC.