The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) is calling for continued and coordinated regional and international naval presence to deter piracy, even as the number of incidents reported globally has fallen to a multi-decade low.
In its first quarter piracy and armed robbery report for 2023, the IMB revealed that it had recorded the lowest level of reported global piracy and armed robbery incidents since 1993. The report shows that 27 incidents were reported in the first quarter of 2023, representing a marked decline from 37 incidents for the same period in 2022.
Of the 27 incidents, 24 involved perpetrators boarding the victims’ vessels, two vessels reported attempted incidents, and one vessel was hijacked. Despite the drop in numbers, the threat of violence remains, with six crew kidnapped, two taken hostage, two threatened, and one assaulted.
“We emphasize the need for continued, robust and coordinated regional and international naval presence to act as a deterrent to prevent and respond to piracy – especially considering nearly 85% of international trade is transported via the sea and it is the seafarers who need to be safeguarded,” said IMB Director Michael Howlett.
Gulf of Guinea
The Gulf of Guinea, which had become a relative hotbed for piracy and armed robbery, saw a decrease in pirate and armed robbery activity, with just five incidents reported in Q1 2023, compared to eight in 2022 and 16 in 2021. However, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre is calling for coastal response agencies and international navies to maintain efforts in the region.
On March 25, the product Monjasa Reformer tanker was hijacked 140nm WSW of Pointe Noire, Congo. The vessel effectively lost all communications for nearly five days, and when located by a French naval asset, six crew were reported as kidnapped. The IMB said the incident highlights the continued need for vigilance and swift naval responses when incidents are reported.
The call comes as another tanker, the Singapore-flagged Success 9, is currently missing after it was reported boarded by pirates off the coast of Cote d’lvoire on April 10.
Almost 30% of Q1 2023 incidents occurred in the Singapore Straits, with eight recorded cases, a decrease from the 15 incidents reported in Q1 2022. While incidents in this region tend to be cases of petty theft, the threat of violence remains a worrisome possibility, with knives sighted and reported in two of the incidents.
About 33% of global incidents occurred in South America, with Callao anchorage, Peru, remaining an area of particular concern. Five reported incidents occurred there in Q1 2023, a number which has remained steady in recent years. Crew, however, continue to be at risk, with two crew taken hostage and one each assaulted and threatened.
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