THERE were 97 incidents reported to ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre in Asia in 2020, marking a 17% year-on-year increase in total incidents and 32% increase in actual incidents.

The increase of incidents occurred in Bangladesh, India, the Philippines, Vietnam, South China Sea and Singapore Strait.

Of the 97 incidents, 93 were armed robbery against ships, while 4 were piracy.

Despite the increase of incidents, the severity level of incidents (violence to crew, stolen items) remained moderate. There was one CAT1 (the most severe) incident, while 74% of incidents were CAT4 (perpetrators not armed and crew not harmed).

A total of 34 incidents (compared to 31 in 2019) occurred in the Singapore Strait, of which 30 occurred in eastbound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme.

There was one incident of abduction of crew from ships in 2020. However, the threat of abduction of crew still remains in the area. Since March 2016, a total of 86 crew were abducted in the area. As of today, four of them still remain in captivity.

There was some improvement at anchorages in China (no incident in 2020 compared to three in 2019) and Malaysia (three incidents in 2020 compared to eight in 2019).

Some perpetrators were arrested in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and the Singapore Strait.

The Annual Report 2020 was released at the 12th Nautical Forum, which was attended by nearly 100 participants from shipping companies, shipping associations, government/regulatory agencies, diplomatic missions as well as academic institutions.

Masafumi Kuroki, executive director of ReCAAP ISC said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of shipping for global trade. The 32% year-on-year increase in the actual incidents in 2020 is a stark reminder that more needs be done to enhance the safety of maritime transport and safeguard the wellbeing of crew.

“Beyond vigilance, timely reporting by ships, enhanced patrol by enforcement agencies, as well as co-operation between littoral states, we believe that arrest and bringing perpetrators to justice is an essential deterrence to stop the increase of incidents.

“We urge the littoral states to take seriously petty theft and sea robbery because leaving criminals to continue their crime with impunity will only embolden them to escalate their acts,” Mr Kuroki said.