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Web Alert: Oceans Beyond Piracy publish 2017 State of Piracy Report

29 May 2018

One Earth Future’s Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP) program have released 'The 2017 State of Maritime Piracy Report'. The report, which represents the latest findings in the eight years since OBP began the series, analyses the human and economic impacts of maritime piracy and robbery at sea in the Western Indian Ocean Region, West Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean.

The report has identified the following trends:

  • Piracy events off the Horn of Africa have doubled in 2017 compared to 2016
  • Overall incidents in the Latin America and Caribbean region increased by 160%, indicating the opportunistic nature of actors in the region
  • Piracy continues to pose a threat in the Gulf of Guinea despite a broad array of countermeasures implemented by coastal states and maritime security companies
  • Kidnap-for-ransom incidents in Asia decreased by 80%, in large part due to the effective cooperation by regional law enforcement actors

East Africa

Incidents have doubled off the coast of East Africa from 27 in 2016 to 54 in 2017. This increase in the number of incidents is also reflected in the total number of seafarers exposed, which has increased from 545 in 2016 to 1,102 in 2017.

Of particular note, OBP have now recorded one hijacking incident and three incidents of kidnapping in the region, the first time in two years. The Report indicates that the increase in the number of incidents can be attributed to several factors, namely the continued intent of pirate action groups to launch attacks and the opportunity to do so, due to lessened adherence to ship self-protection measures, including Best Management Practices.

West Africa

The number of incidents in West Africa rose slightly from 95 in 2016 to 97 in 2017, with the overwhelming majority of attacks occurring off the Niger Delta, however no attacks were recorded south of the Equator.

21 incidents of kidnapping were reported in West Africa, three more than 2016. 100 seafarers were taken hostage, 90 of whom were held for longer than one day compared to 56 seafarers in 2016, with at least two of whom killed. This indicates a significant increase in the level of violence and as a result, an increase in the patrol days recorded for regional navies has been reported.

Asia

99 incidents of piracy and robbery were reported in Asia in 2017, a decrease of 23% from 2016 (129 incidents) and 51% from 2015 (199 incidents). The majority of incidents occurred in territorial waters while vessels were at anchor, with tankers and bulk carriers being the main vessel types affected. 

Only three hijacking incidents were recorded in 2017 while kidnapping incidents declined significantly from 22 in 2016 to four incidents in 2017.

Latin America and Caribbean

Maritime crime in Latin America and the Caribbean is also on the rise according to Maisie Pigeon, the report’s lead author, who states that there has been “a significant increase in violent incidents and anchorage crime, particularly in the anchorages of Venezuela and the recent violent incidents off Suriname in the first part of this year.”

In total 71 incidents of piracy and robbery were recorded in 2017, with most incidents occurring in territorial waters while vessels were anchored. Furthermore, of the 71 recorded incidents, 42 involved yachts, making up roughly 59% of all cases.

Anchorage crimes against yachts continue to be the most pressing issues and anchorages in Venezuela, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Colombia and St. Lucia represented incident hotspots during 2017.

It is important shipowners remain vigilant and continue to follow Best Management Practices (Version 4) and related guidance in all affected areas.

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