Latest figures from the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reveal maritime piracy and armed robbery against crews on board ship have fallen compared to the same period last year

A new report by the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) shows a drop in maritime piracy and armed robbery against crews at sea in the first half of 2017.

However, Somali pirates remain a threat to merchant ships.

According to the report, the first half of 2017 saw a total of 87 incidents reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre compared with 97 for the same period of 2016.

Recording some of the lowest figures seen in the last five-year period, the latest piracy report shows that in the first six-months of 2017, 63 vessels were boarded, 12 fired upon, four were hijacked and attacks were attempted on another eight vessels.

A graphic showing the types of boats targeted by sea piracy and kidnappings in Jan-June 2017

A total of 63 crew have been taken hostage so far this year, while 41 have been kidnapped from their vessels, three injured and two killed.

But, the IMB said the “encouraging downward trend” had been marred by the hijacking of a small Thai product tanker en route from Singapore to Songkhla, Thailand.

The hijacking, at the end of June, was conducted by six heavily armed pirates who transferred 1,500 MT of gas oil to another vessel.

The incident followed a similar pattern to a series of product tanker hijackings in the region which occurred approximately every two weeks between April 2014 and August 2015.

A picture of a world map showing the locations of the reported incidents of sea piracy and armed robbery in the first half of 2017

“To prevent criminal gangs carrying out attacks on other product tankers, the IMB PRC is calling on Malaysian and Indonesian authorities to take robust action, in the same vein as their response which brought perpetrators of the previous spate of attacks to justice”, stated the IMB director, Captain Pottengal Mukundan.

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IMB's global piracy report 2016

Sea piracy drops to 21 year low

Latest figures from the International Maritime Bureau reveal piracy and armed robbery at sea has fallen to its lowest levels…

The IMB said cooperation between Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines has been recognised as the “fundamental reason” for the overall decline in the number of reported incidents in and around the Philippines – from nine cases recorded in the first quarter of the year to just four cases in the second quarter.

Overall, the number of mainly low-level attacks off Indonesia has also decreased from 24 in 2016 to 19 in 2017.

A graphic showing the number of incidents of piracy and armed robbery between January to June 2017

However, Somali pirates remain a threat to merchant ships.

The hijacking of an Indian dhow in early April was one of five incidents off Somalia reported in the second quarter of 2017.

Added to a further three reports of vessels coming under fire and a bulk carrier being boarded by pirates in the Gulf of Aden, the IMB said the incident revealed that Somali pirates still retain “the skills and capacity to attack merchant ships far from coastal waters”.

It is urging ship masters to be extra vigilant when sailing in high risk waters.

A graphic of a lighthouse showing numbers of sea piracy and kidnappings at sea

The majority of kidnappings between January-June 2017 were carried out by pirates in Nigeria.

So far this year, they have been responsible for the abduction of 31 crew in five reported incidents.

Violence against crews continues with half of all reports of vessels being fired upon coming from Nigeria.

The IMB said it recognised there was under reporting of incidents in the Gulf of Guinea and it has now launched a new project to try and encourage more people to share reports of piracy and armed robbery.

It is urging all shipmasters and owners to report all actual, attempted and suspected piracy and armed robbery incidents to the Piracy Reporting Centre.

“This first step in the response chain is vital to ensuring that adequate resources are allocated by authorities to tackle piracy,” said there IMB.

“Transparent statistics from an independent, non-political, international organization can act as a catalyst to achieve this goal,” it added.