THE ICC International Maritime Bureau has reported a rise in piracy incidents in the Gulf of Guinea and concerns for the Singapore Straits.

IMB’s January-September piracy report suggests 99 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported in the first nine months of 2023, an increase from 90 incidents over the same period in 2022.

So far this year, 85 vessels were boarded, nine had attempted attacks, three were hijacked and two were fired upon.

IMB said perpetrators successfully boarded 89% of targeted vessels with most incidents occurring at night.

It said reported violence towards crew members is amongst the lowest in three decades, but the risk to crew remains real with 69 taken hostage, 14 kidnapped, eight threatened, three injured and one assaulted.

Reported incidents increased in the Gulf of Guinea in the first nine months of 2023, from 14 in the same period last year to 21 this year.

Seventeen were classified as armed robberies and four as piracy with a mounting concern for crew as 54 were taken hostage, 14 kidnapped and two were injured.

“The Gulf of Guinea stands as a region of concern with a rise in reported incidents, as opposed to the downward trend we have seen in the past two years,” IMB director Michael Howlett said.

“The IMB sees regional ownership as critical to safeguard shipping and trade and to address these crimes.”

IMB said the Singapore Straits continues to raise concerns with 33 reported incidents in the first nine months of 2023 compared with 31 in the same period last year.

Overall, 31 vessels were boarded with five crew taken hostage and two threatened with 25% of incidents reported in July. In most cases, ship stores or properties were reported stolen.

Considering the navigational challenges of the Singapore Straits, even low-level opportunistic incidents, could potentially increase the risk to safe navigation in these congested waters, according to IMB.

The bureau also expressed concern over the risks of late or under reporting of these incidents. It commended local authorities for investigating nearly all reported incidents.

“We encourage reporting any incident, even low-level opportunistic ones, to local authorities as early as possible to protect seafarers and ensure the safety of regional and international shipping and trade,” Mr Howlett said.

The IMB also recorded an increase in the number of incidents in the Indonesian archipelagic region, with 12 incidents reported compared to 10 for the same period in 2020 and seven in 2021. Knives were sighted in five out of the 12 reported incidents.

Reports from Callao Anchorage in Peru have increased to 13 from eight in the same period in 2022, with reports of nine crew taken hostage and one member threatened and another assaulted.