Around 180 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported to the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB) last year, according to its report.
This is the lowest annual number of incidents since 1995, when 188 reports were received.
In 2017, 136 vessels were boarded, while there were 22 attempted attacks, 16 vessels fired upon and six vessels hijacked. In 15 separate incidents, 91 seafarers were taken hostage and 75 were kidnapped from their vessels in 13 other incidents. Three crew members were killed last year and six injured.
In the previous year, 191 incidents were reported, with 150 vessels boarded and 151 crew members taken hostage.
The report also underlined several highlights from the past year.
For example, in the Guff of Guinea (GoG), there were 36 reported incidents but no vessels were hijacked and 10 incidents of kidnapping, involving 65 crew members in or around Nigerian waters. Globally, 16 vessels reported being fired upon—including seven in the GoG.
“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. The Nigerian authorities have intervened in a number of incidents helping to prevent incidents from escalating,” said Pottengal Mukundan, IMB director.
Nine incidents were recorded off Somalia last year, up from two in 2016.
Following an attack on a containership, six Somali pirates were detained by EU NAVFOR, transferred to the Seychelles and charged with ‘committing an act of piracy’ where they 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 warned.
Elsewhere, Indonesia recorded 43 incidents last year, down from 49 in 2016. The IMB report said that Indonesian Marine Police patrols continued to be effective in the country’s 10 designated safe anchorages.
In the Philippines, however, the number of reported incidents more than doubled, from 10 in 2016 to 22 in 2017. According to the report, the majority of these incidents were low-level attacks on anchored vessels, mainly at the ports of Manila and Batangas.
Vessels underway off the Southern Philippines were boarded and crew kidnapped in the first quarter of 2017. However, alerts broadcast by the IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC), on behalf of the Philippine authorities, have since helped to avoid further successful attacks.