London and Kuala Lumpur, 31 October 2016 – Kidnapping and hostage-taking persists off the coasts of West Africa and South East Asia, despite a 20-year low in piracy on the world's seas, according to new figures from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB).
IMB's latest global piracy report shows that pirates armed with guns or knives took 110 seafarers hostage in the first nine months of 2016, and kidnapped 49 crew for ransom. Nigeria, a growing hotspot for violent piracy and armed robbery, accounts for 26% of all captures, followed by Indonesia, Malaysia, Guinea and Ivory Coast.
But with just 42 attacks worldwide this quarter, maritime piracy is at its lowest since 1996. IMB's Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC) has recorded 141 incidents so far this year, a 25% drop from the same period in 2015. A total of 111 vessels were boarded, five were hijacked, 10 were fired at, and a further 15 attacks were thwarted.
"We are encouraged by the efforts of national and international authorities – and the shipping industry – to keep piracy down. But clearly the threat to crew being taken hostage remains, and it is therefore necessary for shipmasters and response agencies to remain vigilant," said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB, which has monitored world piracy since 1991.
Somalia risk remains
As for Somalia, zero incidents were recorded this quarter and just one attempted attack was recorded in the Gulf of Aden in the first nine months of 2016. But the situation ashore in Somalia, from where the pirate vessels set off, remains fragile. Mr Mukundan called on shipmasters to follow the industry's Best Management Practices and continue to remain vigilant as they sail through waters off Somalia.
Piracy and armed robbery prone areas
The report gives details of all 141 attacks in 27 countries, and advice for mariners, including a list of particularly high-risk areas where extra caution and precautionary measures are vital.