File photo shows an EU NAVFOR warship chasing down a suspected pirate ‘mothership’ off the coast of Somalia. Credit: EU NAVFOR
Fewer incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea were reported in the first three months of 2019, but risk of kidnappings continue to pose a threat to ship and crews in the Gulf of Guinea, the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre said in its first detailed quarterly report of the year.
In the first quarter of 2019, IMB reported 38 incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea, representing 28 fewer incidents than the first quarter of 2018 (66). IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre detailed that 27 vessels were boarded, seven vessels were fired upon and four attempted attacks occurred in the first quarter of 2019.
No vessels were reported as hijacked for the first time since the first quarter of 1994, the IMB said.
The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre is a 24-hour, free service offered by the IMB, an agency of the International Chamber of Commerce. The agency enables shipmasters to report any incidents of piracy and armed robbery, globally against ships.
“These latest statistics from the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre are encouraging. However, first quarter statistics is too short a period on which to anticipate trends over the year,” said IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan. “It confirms the importance of information sharing and coordinated action between the industry and response agencies. Going forward, it is critical to continue to build more effective reporting structures to enable a strong, unified response when dealing with piracy incidents.”
Gulf of Guinea Risk
The Gulf of Guinea represented a high number of piracy and armed robbery attacks against ships, with 22 incidents reported in the first quarter of 2019. The region also accounted for all of the worldwide crew kidnappings as 21 crew members were kidnapped across five separate incidents.
Incidents were reported in the coastal countries, of Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria and Togo in the first quarter of 2019.
Continued Caution Urged in Nigeria
Nigeria has been a hotspot for piracy incidents over the past decade, but in the first quarter of 2019, Nigeria experienced a decrease in reported piracy incidents, the IMB report showed. Nigeria reported 14 incidents of piracy for Q1 2019, in comparison to 22 incidents in Q1 2018. These results confirm the Nigerian Navy’s increased efforts to “actively respond to reported incidents by dispatching patrol boats,” the report notes.
Despite these efforts, Nigerian waters remain risky for vessels, especially the port of Lagos where four incidents have been reported, the IMB said.
In Asia, Indonesia witnessed a decrease in piracy activities for the first quarter of 2019. There were only three incidents reported against anchored vessels in ports in Indonesia – the fewest reported incidents since 2010 – according to the report. As with Nigeria, increased cooperation and information sharing between the Indonesian Marine Police and IMB Piracy Reporting Centre has enabled regular patrols in high-risk areas.
The IMB attributes the declining rate of piracy incidents worldwide in the first quarter of 2019 to the importance of transparency, communication and coordination between vessels and coastal authorities.
“By reporting all incidents to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre and coastal authorities the response can be better organised improving incident response times and prompt advice to vessels aimed at a more optimal use of resources. National governments and coastal authorities can use this data to collaborate and strengthen their piracy prevention efforts,” the IMB said.
You can view the full IMB report here.
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