IMB: Piracy Falls to Five-Year Low for Q1-Q3

Kidnapping remains a serious threat in Gulf of Guinea

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Published Oct 15, 2019 9:29 PM by The Maritime Executive

Pirate attacks for the first three quarters of the year have fallen to a five-year low, according to the latest report from the ICC IMB Piracy Reporting Centre. 

In its Q3 report, the IMB found that there were 119 pirate attacks between January and September, the lowest number recorded since at least 2015. The incidence rate of kidnapping has risen, however: 70 seafarers have been kidnapped so far this year, more than the number for the same period in any of the last five years. 

The location of piracy incidents is concentrated in a small number of hotspots, and Nigeria alone accounted for about 25 percent of all attacks. The waters in and adjacent to Nigeria - including attacks off Togo, Benin and Cameroon - accounted for the overwhelming majority of kidnappings worldwide, in line with an unfortunate trend. Nigeria-based pirate gangs have been implicated in multiple recent kidnapping incidents in the greater Gulf of Guinea, both within the waters of neighboring countries and on the high seas.

"All waters in / off Nigeria remain risky. Vessels are advised to be vigilant, as many incidents may have gone unreported," IMB wrote in its report. "Incidents continue to rise substantially, especially kidnapping of crews for ransom. Vessels are advised to take additional measures in these high risk waters."

The incidence rate of piracy in southeast Asia remains lower. The IMB cautioned that while the frequency of attacks has declined off Sabah, Malaysia after local authorities increased patrols, the threat still exists, and two kidnappings have occured in the region so far this year.

In a sign of the success of global anti-piracy efforts in the Horn of Africa, no pirate attacks have been reported off Somalia this year. Still, IMB recommends that masters maintain vigilance and maintain BMP security standards when transiting the region.