The ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) calls for continued, robust and coordinated regional and international naval presence to act as a deterrent to prevent and respond to piracy.
The ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has recorded the lowest level of reported global piracy and armed robbery incidents since 1993 but calls for continued vigilance and naval response in its first quarter piracy and armed robbery report for 2023.
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.
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 16 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 140nm 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.
IMB Director Michael Howlett said: '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% of international trade is transported via the sea and it is the seafarers who need to be safeguarded.'
Almost 30% of Q1 2023 incidents occurred in the Singapore Straits, with eight recorded cases – a decrease from the 15 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.
About 33% 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.
IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre continues to serve as a crucial, 24-hour point of contact to report crimes of piracy and lend support to ships under threat. Quick reactions and a focus on coordinating with response agencies, sending out warning broadcasts and email alerts to ships have all helped bolster security on the high seas. The data gathered by the Centre also provides key insights on the nature and state of modern piracy.
Request a full copy of the report here and download the summary report here.