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Web Alert: Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP) publishes its 2016 annual report

10 May 2017

OBP has published its annual report on the state of maritime piracy for 2016 and identified the following trends:

  • Pirates are provided with better opportunities to attack exposed ships, principally off the Horn of Africa, due to the lack of the required vigilance in high risk areas;
  • There has been a serious increase in kidnap for ransom attacks in the Sulu and Celebes Seas in South East Asia. This has resulted from the potential for financial gain with less risk to offenders than in hijacking for cargo theft; and
  • West Africa, specifically Nigeria, continues to be a concerning area with piracy attacks doubling since 2015 and attacks being particularly violent (risks of kidnapping or even death).

East Africa

27 incidents of piracy and 13 incidents of suspicious activity were reported.

In 2016, no hijackings were recorded but a total of 545 seafarers were subjected to attacks. Eight seafarers have been held by Somali pirates for over two years while 26 seafarers were released on 22 October 2016 after more than four and a half years in captivity.

Despite lower piracy numbers over the past year, illicit maritime activities, such as arms smuggling and human trafficking still exist.

West Africa

95 incidents of piracy were reported, up from 54 in 2015. The majority of incidents occurred off Nigeria highlighting that piracy and armed robbery at sea in West Africa is strongly influenced by the domestic security situation in Nigeria.

A total of 1,921 seafarers were subjected to attacks in 2016, up from 1,225 in 2015. 96 seafarers were taken hostage, up from 44 in 2015. Kidnap for ransom attacks increased by more than one third from 2015 to 2016, with OBP recording 18 incidents

Asia

There was a 35% decrease from 2015 in the number of incidents reported in Asia highlighting the importance and effectiveness of regional cooperation and information-sharing mechanisms. The number of hijackings for cargo theft incidents recorded by OBP decreased from 12 in 2015 to just three in 2015. A total of 2,283 seafarers were subjected to attacks, compared to 3,674 in 2015.

It therefore appears that there has been an overall improvement in the piracy and armed robbery situation in Asia in 2016; however, the new trend of kidnap for ransom in the Sulu and Celebes Seas raises concerns. 67 seafarers were taken hostage and 21 were kidnapped.

Whilst the fight against piracy in recent years has significantly reduced the rate of attacks (especially off the coast of Somalia in the Western Indian Ocean), it is important shipowners remain vigilant and continue to follow Best Management Practices (Version 4) and related guidance in all affected areas.

The full report can be found here

For more information, please contact your usual club contact or the authors of this article.