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Global Piracy Falls to Lowest Level in Decades

Mike Schuler
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October 12, 2022

The number of piracy and armed robbery incidents at sea fallen to the lowest level since 1992, but regional and international players must sustain efforts to combat the issue, particularly in the Gulf of Guinea, the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said in its latest quarterly report released Wednesday.

The IMB’s report details 90 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships in the first nine months of 2022, the lowest recorded figure in three decades.

Perpetrators were successful in gaining access to the vessels in 95% of the reported incidents. Breaking down the numbers, among the 90 incidents there were 85 vessels boarded, four attempted attacks, and one vessel hijacked. In many of the cases vessels were either at anchor or steaming when boarded, with nearly all the incidents occurring in the dark of night.

The risk to the crew remains real. While incidents have fallen to the lowest number in decades, violence to crew continues with 27 crew taken hostage, six assaulted and five threatened.

Gulf of Guinea Piracy

Of the 90 global piracy and armed robbery incidents, 13 have been reported in the Gulf of Guinea region – compared to 27 over the same period of 2021. This is a positive improvement and significant decline in the number of reported incidents in the region off west Africa which emerged as the world’s biggest piracy hotspot in recent years. But there is no room for complacency, the IMB warns.

“We commend the efforts of the coastal authorities of the Gulf of Guinea. While the decline is welcome, sustained and continued efforts of the coastal authorities and the presence of the international navies remain essential to safeguard seafarers and long-term regional and international shipping and trade,” says IMB Director Michael Howlett. “There is no room for complacency.”

Singapore Straits

Incidents in the Singapore Straits continue to increase with 31 reports in the first nine months of 2022, compared to 21 in the same period last year. Vessels underway, including several large vessels and tankers, were boarded in all 31 reports. In most cases, ship stores or properties were stolen. Crews also continue to be at risk with weapons reported in at least 16 of the incidents, including some involving very large bulk carriers and tankers, the IMB said.

The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre also believes there is a degree of underreporting as well as late reporting of incidents from these waters.

“While these are so far considered low-level opportunistic crimes, with no crew kidnappings or vessel hijackings, littoral states are requested to increase patrols in what is a strategically important waterway for the shipping industry and for global trade,” Howlett says.

South America

The IMB reports that the number of reports from Callao anchorage in Peru has dropped from 15 in the first nine months of 2021 to eight in 2022. Additionally, five incidents have been reported at Macapa Anchorage, Brazil including one on 30 August, where six security and duty crew were assaulted and tied up by perpetrators who boarded an anchored bulk carrier.

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