4 takeaways from the IMB’s latest global piracy report

Associations, Bribery and Corruption, Corruption, Health and Safety, Insight, Maritime Fraud, Military, News, Piracy and Terrorism, Reports, Safety and Security — By on October 17, 2017 at 8:23 AM

Captain P. Mukundan

London, 17 October 2017 – A total of 121 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported in the first nine months of 2017, according to the International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) latest quarterly report on maritime piracy.

The flagship global report notes that, while piracy rates were down compared to the same period in
2016, there is continuing concern over attacks in the Gulf of Guinea and in South East Asia. The
increase in attacks off the coast of Venezuela and other security incidents against vessels off Libya –
including an attempted boarding in the last quarter – highlights the need for vigilance in other areas.
In total, 92 vessels were boarded, 13 were fired upon, there were 11 attempted attacks and five
vessels were hijacked in the first nine months of 2017.

No incidents were reported off the coast of Somalia in this quarter, though the successful attacks from
earlier in the year suggest that pirates in the area retain the capacity to target merchant shipping at
distances from the coastline. Here are four main takeaways from the report:

1. Malaysia’s success story
One vessel was reported hijacked in the third quarter of 2017 when a Thai product tanker was
attacked off Pulau Yu in Malaysia in early September. However, thanks to the prompt intervention of
the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, 10 hijackers were successfully apprehended and the
tanker was safely escorted to a nearby port. The pirates were quickly tried and sentenced to long
periods of imprisonment.

“The Malaysian response demonstrates exactly the type of speedy and robust action that is needed
to deter such attacks.” said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB.

2. Nigeria remains risky
A total of 20 reports against all vessel types were received for Nigeria, 16 of which occurred off the
coast of Brass, Bonny and Bayelsa. Guns were reportedly used in 18 of the incidents and vessels were
underway in 17 of 20 reports. 39 of the 49 crewmembers kidnapped globally occurred off Nigerian
waters in seven separate incidents. Other crew kidnappings in 2017 have been reported 60 nautical
miles off the coast of Nigeria.

“In general, all waters in and off Nigeria remain risky, despite intervention in some cases by the
Nigerian Navy. We advise vessels to be vigilant,” said Mr Mukundan. “The number of attacks in the
Gulf of Guinea could be even higher than our figures as many incidents continue to be unreported.”

3. An uptick in violence off Venezuela
While only three low-level incidents took place in Venezuela during the same period in 2016, the
number this year racked up to 11. All vessels were successfully boarded by robbers armed with guns
or knives and mostly took place at anchorage. Four crewmembers were taken hostage during these
incidents, with two assaulted and one injured.

4. Tackling piracy is a team effort
Perhaps the biggest takeaway of this quarter’s report is the proven importance of the 24-hour manned
IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC), which has provided the maritime industry, governments and
response agencies with timely and transparent data on piracy and armed robbery incidents received
directly from the vessels or owners, flag states or navies. The PRC’s prompt forwarding of reports and
liaison with response agencies—using Inmarsat Safety Net Services and email alerts, all free of
charge—has already helped bolster the response against piracy and armed robbery, keeping seafarers
safe.
“One of the strongest weapons triggering the fight against piracy is accurate statistics,” said Mr
Mukundan. “There should be free and reciprocal sharing of information between the IMB PRC and
regional information centres. With a clearer picture of when and where violent incidents are taking
place, authorities are able to better allocate their resources to tackle this global issue.”

Piracy and armed robbery
Since 1991 the IMB 24-hour-manned Piracy Reporting Centre, has provided the maritime industry,
governments and response agencies with timely and transparent data on piracy and armed robbery
incidents – received directly from the vessel masters or owners.

The Centre’s prompt forwarding of reports and liaison with response agencies, its broadcasts to
shipping via Inmarsat Safety Net Services and email alerts to CSO’s – all provided cost free – have
contributed to response efforts against piracy and armed robbery and to improved security for
seafarers worldwide.

IMB strongly urges all shipmasters and owners to report all actual, attempted and suspected piracy
and armed robbery incidents to the PRC. This first step in the response chain is vital to ensuring that
adequate resources are allocated by authorities to tackle piracy. Transparent statistics from an
independent, non-political, international organization can act as a catalyst to achieve this goal.

Follow the @IMB_Piracy via #IMBPiracy IMB offers the latest piracy reports free of charge. To request a PDF version of the report by email, visit: https://www.icc-ccs.org/piracy-reporting-centre/request-piracy-report

2017 Q3 IMB Piracy Report Abridged

2017 Q3 IMB Infographics

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