Global maritime piracy activity fell to its lowest level in over two decades, according to the latest International Maritime Bureau (IMB) report.
The 180 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships reported to the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) IMB in 2017 was the lowest annual number since 1995, when 188 incidents were reported.
2017 Piracy: By the Numbers
According to the IMB, pirates boarded 136 vessels in 2017, while 22 attacks were attempted, 16 vessels fired upon and six vessels hijacked.
IMB said 91 crewmembers were taken hostage in 15 separate incidents, and 75 were kidnapped from their vessels in 13 other incidents over the course of the year. Six crewmembers were injured and three were killed in 2017.
These numbers are down from 2016, when 191 incidents were reported, with 150 vessels boarded and 151 crewmembers taken hostage.
Despite the overall decrease in piracy worldwide, IMB’s report underlined several key causes of concern from the past year, including persisting danger in the Gulf of Guinea, a resurgence of Somali pirate activity, and mixed results combating pricy in Southeast Asia.
Gulf of Guinea: Persistent Danger
“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,” said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB. “The Nigerian authorities have intervened in a number of incidents helping to prevent incidents from escalating.”
In 2017 in the Gulf of Guinea, there were 36 reported incidents with no vessels hijacked, as well as 10 incidents of kidnapping involving 65 crewmembers in or around Nigerian waters. Of the 16 vessels that reported being fired upon worldwide, seven were in the Gulf of Guinea.
Somali Pirates Sentenced
Somali pirates were more active in 2017
, as nine incidents of attempted piracy were recorded off Somalia, up from two in 2016.
In November, armed pirates attacked a containership approximately 280 nautical miles east of Mogadishu. Unable to board the vessel due to the ship’s evasive maneuvering, the pirates fired two RPG rockets, both of which missed, before retreating. Six suspected Somali pirates were subsequently apprehended
and transferred to the Seychelles where they were charged
and now face up to 30 years’ imprisonment 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,” Mukundan said.
Southeast Asia: Mixed Results
The IMB report notes that Indonesian Marine Police patrols have continued to be effective in the country’s 10 designated safe anchorages, as recorded incidents in 2017 were down to 43 from 49 in 2016.
In the Philippines, however, the number of reported incidents has more than doubled, from 10 in 2016 to 22 in 2017. Most of these incidents were low-level attacks on anchored vessels, mainly at the ports of Manila and Batangas, according to the report.
In the first several months of 2017
, vessels underway off the Southern Philippines were boarded and crew kidnapped, but the IMB’s Piracy Reporting Center (PRC) subsequently broadcast alerts on behalf of the Philippine authorities that have since helped to avoid further attacks.