Piracy and armed robbery on the world’s seas is persisting at levels close to those in 2014, despite reductions in the number of ships hijacked and crew captured, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC’s) International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) annual piracy report reveals.
IMB's Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC) recorded 246 incidents in 2015, which is one more than in 2014.
The number of vessels boarded rose 11% to 203, one ship was fired at, and a further 27 attacks were thwarted. Armed with guns or knives, pirates killed one seafarer and injured at least 14.
A total of 15 vessels were hijacked in 2015, down from 21 in 2014, while 271 hostages were held on their ships, compared with 442 in 2014.
No hijackings were reported in Q4, 2015, except for a recent incident involving the hijacking of a merchant ship, which reportedly took place off the coast of West Africa.
IMB said one key factor in this recent global reduction was the drop in attacks against small fuel tankers around South East Asia's coasts, the last of which occurred in August, 2015.
Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB, said: “IMB particularly commends the robust actions taken by the Indonesian and Malaysian authorities in the arrest and prosecution of two gangs that hijacked tankers. We also applaud the subsequent arrest of some of the alleged masterminds.”
However Mr Mukundan urged shipmasters to maintain strict anti-piracy and robbery watches. South East Asia still accounts for most of the world's incidents.
Almost 55% of the region's attacks were against vessels underway compared to 37% in 2014. Most were aimed at low-level theft. IMB cites this rise on moving vessels as a cause for concern as it increases potential risks to the vessels and their crew.
The IMB PRC continues to work closely with the Indonesian Marine Police and other Indonesian authorities to monitor high-risk areas.
Nigeria is a breeding ground for piracy and armed robbery, though many attacks are believed to go unrecorded. IMB received reports of 14 incidents, with nine vessels boarded.
No Somali-based attacks were reported in 2015. Following a new 55% reduction in the industry-defined high risk area, IMB warns vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean to stay particularly vigilant.