MARITIME piracy and arm robbery attacks have fallen to their lowest recorded levels in almost three decades, according to the ICC International Maritime Bureau.

With figures at now at a 30-year low, the IMB is calling for sustained anti-piracy efforts around the world.

The ICC IMB’s annual report recorded 115 piracy and armed robbery incidents against ships in 2022, down from 132 in 2021.

Half of the 2022 incidents occurred in Southeast Asian waters, particularly in the Singapore Straits, where incidents are still rising.

IMB said perpetrators successfully gained access to vessels in 95% of the reported incidents.

One-hundred-and-seven vessels were boarded, two vessels were hijacked, five experienced attempted attacks and one vessel was fired upon.

IMB noted in many cases vessels were either anchored or steaming when boarded, with nearly all the incidents occurring during the hours of darkness.

Piracy activity decreased overall in the Gulf of Guinea last year, down from 35 incidents in 2021 to 19 in 2022.

However, IMB said attention needs to remain on the safety of seafarers in the GoG region, as it is still dangerous.

The bureau highlighted two recent GoG incidents: in November, pirates commandeered a ro-ro vessel near Sierra Leone and took the entire crew hostage, and in December, a Suezmax tanker was fired upon near Equatorial Guinea.

IMB director Michael Howlett said the prompt actions of international navies and regional authorities in the GoG region contributed to the drop in reported incidents.

“Both these latter incidents do however cause concern and illustrate that efforts to enhance maritime security in the region must be sustained,” he said.

There were 38 incidents in the Singapore Straits last year, accounting for a third of all incidents reported globally in 2022.

IMB said all incidents involved vessels underway, and all vessels were successfully boarded.

The bureau considers the incidents as low-level opportunistic crimes under the definition of armed robbery, but said crews are still at risk.

In the 38 reported incidents, two crew were threatened and four were taken hostage for the duration of the incident. In at least three incidents the crew was threatened with a gun.

Mr Howlett commended local authorities for investigating nearly all reported incidents in the Singapore Straits.

“Being one of the most crucial and busy waterways for trade, these incidents continue to be a cause of concern as they not only have an impact on crew safety but also potential navigational and environmental consequences,” he said.

The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre believes there is a degree of under-reporting and as late reporting of incidents from these waters.

It encouraged masters to report all incidents as early as possible so local authorities can investigate and apprehend the perpetrators.

IMB said incidents reported in the Indonesian archipelago remain at relatively low levels because of the continued efforts of the Indonesian Marine Police.

And in South American waters, there has been a decrease in the number of reported incidents, but ports in Brazil, Guyana, Peru, Venezuela, Mexico and Haiti continue to be affected by armed robbery.

IMB attributed the reduction in part to the decrease in reported incidents in Callao anchorage in Peru, which saw a 33% decrease compared to 2021.