The ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has raised concern on the resurgence of reported incidents in the Gulf of Guinea waters and the increase in incidents in the Singapore Straits in its mid-year report for 2023.
Sixty-five incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were recorded in the first half of 2023, an increase from 58 incidents for the same period in 2022.
Of the 65 incidents reported, 57 vessels were boarded, four had attempted attacks, two were hijacked and two were fired upon. Perpetrators successfully boarded 90% of targeted vessels. Violence towards crew continues with 36 taken hostage, 14 kidnapped, three threatened, two injured and one assaulted.
IMB Director Michael Howlett said: “The resurgence in reported incidents including hostage situations and crew kidnappings in the Gulf of Guinea waters is concerning. The IMB calls for continued, robust regional and international naval presence as a deterrent to address these crimes.”
Mounting concerns for crew in the Gulf of Guinea
The Gulf of Guinea witnessed a concerning surge in maritime incidents between Q1 and Q2 of 2023, with five incidents in the first quarter and nine in the second quarter. Out of these, 12 were classified as armed robberies and two as piracy, predominantly targeting anchored vessels in the region.
Fourteen crew were kidnapped, of which eight crew members were taken from vessels anchored within territorial waters. Additionally, in two separate hijackings, 31 crew members were held hostage, communication and navigation equipment were destroyed, and partial cargoes were stolen. One of these incidents also involved the abduction of six crew members.
“We once again call on Gulf of Guinea regional authorities and the international community to refocus their attention on the region, to establish long-term, sustainable solutions that effectively address these crimes and protect the seafaring and fishing communities,” Howlett said.
Rising risks in Singapore Straits
While considered low level opportunistic crimes, often large vessels transiting through the Singapore Straits remain targeted and boarded, with a significant 25% increase in reported incidents compared to the same period last year in these congested waters. The IMB expresses concern and has requested that littoral states allocate the required resources to address these crimes as crew members continue to be at risk with weapons reported in at least eight incidents.
Reduction of incidents in the Indonesian archipelagic region
The Indonesian archipelagic region has shown a sustained decrease in reported incidents compared to years preceding 2020, with seven incidents reported, primarily involving anchored or berthed vessels. Crew members remain at risk, with instances of threats and knives reported.
South and Central America account for 14% of global incidents
In South and Central American ports, which accounted for 14% of global incidents, there were 13 reported incidents, including attempted boardings, hostage situations, and crew assaults and threats at Callao Anchorage in Peru, Colombia, Macapa Anchorage in Brazil, and Panama.
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