The ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has recorded the lowest level of reported global piracy and armed robbery incidents since 1993. Yet, the organisation calls for continued vigilance and naval response in its first quarter piracy and armed robbery report for 2023, released today.
The report reveals 27 incidents were reported in the first quarter of the year, representing a marked decline from 37 incidents for the same period in 2022.
Of the 27 incidents, perpetrators boarded the victims’ vessels in 24 cases, two vessels reported attempted incidents and one vessel was hijacked. Despite the drop in numbers, the threat of violence remains – six crew kidnapped, two taken hostage, two threatened and one assaulted.
Also read: Piracy in 2022 at lowest level in decades
Gulf of Guinea
Pirate and armed robbery activity continues to decrease in the Gulf of Guinea, an area which had become a relative hotbed for this crime in recent history. Just five incidents were reported in Q1 2023 compared to eight in 2022 and sixteen in 2021.
Despite these improvements, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre is calling for coastal response agencies and international navies to maintain efforts in the region. On 25 March, a product tanker was hijacked 140 nm WSW of Pointe Noire, The Congo. The vessel effectively lost all communications for nearly five days and when located by a French naval asset, six crew were reported as kidnapped. This highlights the continued need for vigilance and swift naval responses when incidents are reported.
‘We emphasise the need for continued, robust and coordinated regional and international naval presence to act as a deterrent to prevent and respond to piracy – especially considering nearly 85 per cent of international trade is transported via the sea and it is the seafarers who need to be safeguarded,’ says IMB Director Michael Howlett.
Almost thirty per cent of Q1 2023 incidents occurred in the Singapore Straits, with eight recorded cases – a decrease from the fifteen incidents reported in Q1 2022. While incidents in this region tend to be cases of petty theft, the threat of violence remains a worrisome possibility, with knives sighted and reported in two of the incidents.
Also read: Nigeria and shipping industry to battle piracy in Gulf of Guinea together
About 33 per cent of global incidents occurred in South America, with Callao anchorage, Peru remaining an area of particular concern. Five reported incidents occurred there in Q1 2023, a number which has remained steady in recent years. Crew, however, continue to be at risk with two crew taken hostage and one each assaulted and threatened.
Also read: IMB reports lull in crew kidnappings in Gulf of Guinea