THERE were only 90 reports of piracy and armed robbery against ships in the first nine months of this year, according to the International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureau’s latest global quarterly piracy report.

The IMB said this is the lowest recorded figure since 1992.

However, the bureau is calling on international players to sustain anti-piracy efforts, particularly in the Gulf of Guinea.

“Perpetrators were successful in gaining access to the vessels in 95% of the reported incidents which are broken down as 85 vessels boarded, four attempted attacks, and one vessel hijacked. In many of the cases vessels were either at anchor or steaming when boarded, with nearly all the incidents occurring during the hours of darkness,” the IMB said.

“Though these are amongst the lowest reports in decades, violence to crew continues with 27 crew taken hostage, six assaulted and five threatened. The risk to the crew, however petty or opportunistic the incident, remains real.”

Gulf of Guinea

Of the 90 reported incidents, 13 were in the Gulf of Guinea region, compared with 27 over the same period of 2021. The bureau said this signals a positive and significant decline in the number of reported incidents in the region of West Africa, which emerged as the world’s biggest piracy hotspot in recent years.

IMB Director Michael Howlett said: “We commend the efforts of the coastal authorities of the Gulf of Guinea. While the decline is welcome, sustained and continued efforts of the coastal authorities and the presence of the international navies remain essential to safeguard seafarers and long-term regional and international shipping and trade. There is no room for complacency.”

Increase in the Singapore Straits

Incidents in the Singapore Straits continue to increase with 31 reports in the first nine months of 2022, compared with 21 in the same period last year.

Vessels underway, including several large vessels and tankers, were boarded in all 31 reports and in most cases, ship stores or properties were stolen. Crews also continue to be at risk with weapons reported in at least 16 incidents, including some involving very large bulk carriers and tankers.

IMB Director Michael Howlett said: “While these are so far considered low-level opportunistic crimes, with no crew kidnappings or vessel hijackings, littoral states are requested to increase patrols in what is a strategically important waterway for the shipping industry and for global trade.”

The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre also believes there is a degree of underreporting as well as late reporting of incidents from these waters and encourages masters to report all incidents as early as possible so that local authorities are able to identify, investigate and apprehend the perpetrators.