IMB: Gulf of Guinea Led the World for Piracy in 2018

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Published Jan 16, 2019 12:34 PM by The Maritime Executive

The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre has released its global piracy report for 2018, and it warns that the maritime industry experienced a net increase in attacks year-over-year. In particular, the agency recorded a "marked rise in attacks against ships and crews around West Africa."

Worldwide, the IMB recorded 201 incidents of maritime piracy and armed robbery in 2018, up from 180 in 2017. The Gulf of Guinea is particularly dangerous for seafarers: reports of attacks in waters between the Ivory Coast and the Congo more than doubled in 2018, and these incidents accounted for the overwhelming majority of serious acts of piracy worldwide. The Gulf of Guinea accounted for all six hijackings, 13 of the 18 ships fired upon, 130 of the 141 hostages held, and 78 of 83 seafarers kidnapped for ransom worldwide. 

In a worrisome trend, this violence accelerated in the last quarter of the year. 41 kidnappings were recorded off Nigeria between October and December, more than half the annual total. Some of these attacks occurred up to 100 nm offshore, well outside of the territorial waters of West African states. 

In addition, the prevalence of piracy may well be above the official statistics, as the IMB believes that about half of all attacks go unreported. 

“There is an urgent need for increased cooperation and sharing of intelligence between the Gulf of Guinea’s littoral states so that effective action can be taken against pirates, both at sea and on shore where their operations originate and end,” said the IMB in a statement.

In other regional developments, acts of piracy declined or remained at relatively low levels off the shores of other historic hot spots like Somalia, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. Somali pirates fired upon three merchant vessels last year, but they conducted no successful boardings. In Sabah, Malaysia, five crewmembers from two fishing boats were kidnapped, and one tug came under attack - far less than the outbreak of abductions seen in 2017. In Indonesia, six crewmembers were held hostage and threatened in one incident, but the overwhelming majority of reports were for acts of low-level theft. 

For the full IMB Piracy Reporting Centre annual report, visit https://www.icc-ccs.org/piracy-reporting-centre/request-piracy-report.