The International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB) in 2017 received reports of 180 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships , according to the latest IMB report.
However, this is the lowest annual number of incidents since 1995, when there were 188 reports.
In 2017, pirates boarded 136 vessels, while there were 22 attempted attacks. Additionally, they fired at 16 vessels and hijacked six vessels.
In 15 separate incidents, pirates had taken 91 hostages and kidnapped 75 from their vessels in 13 other incidents. They killed three in 2017 and injured six.
In contrast, in 2016, there was a total of 191 incidents. Pirates had boarded 150 vessels and taken 151 crew members hostage.
Beyond the global figures, the report underlined several takeaways from the past year.
Mixed results in Southeast Asia
Indonesia recorded 43 incidents in 2017, down from 49 in 2016. The IMB report notes that Indonesian Marine Police patrols continue to be effective in the country’s 10 designated safe anchorages.
However, in the Philippines, the number of reported incidents has more than doubled, from 10 in 2016 to 22 in 2017.
The majority of these incidents were low-level attacks on anchored vessels. These happened mainly at the ports of Manila and Batangas.
Pirates boarded vessels underway off the Southern Philippines and kidnapped the crew 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.
Persistent danger in the Gulf of Guinea
In 2017, there were 36 reported incidents with no vessels hijacked in this area. Also, there were 10 incidents of kidnapping involving 65 crew members in or around Nigerian waters.
Globally pirates fired at 16 vessels. These included seven in the Gulf of Guinea.
“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, director of IMB.
Sentencing Somali pirates
There were nine incidents off Somalia in 2017, up from two in 2016.
In November, armed pirates attacked a container ship approximately 280 nautical miles east of Mogadishu.
The pirates, unable to board the vessel due to the ship’s evasive manoeuvring fired two RPG rockets, both of which missed, before retreating.
The European Union Naval Force subsequently detained six Somali pirates. The authority transferred the pirates to the Seychelles and charged them with “committing an act of piracy”. Therefore, if convicted, they face up to 30 years’ imprisonment.
“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,” said Mukundan.
Download full report here.