Asia's Deadly Pirates
Asia sees more kidnappings and armed robberies at sea than anywhere else in the world.
By Neil Thompson
Despite genuine improvements in maritime security by Asian littoral states in recent years, Asia remains the global number one hotspot for piracy on the high seas, according to reports from global maritime watchdogs and shipping industry groups. According to anti-piracy group Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP), which mapped attacks from multiple industry sources including the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP), the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), and the Information Fusion Center (IFC), the region saw the highest number of incidents when all types of piracy were accounted for. In total 129 types of piratical incidents occurred in Asia during 2016; by contrast, the second most popular region for pirate activities was West Africa, which saw only 95 incidents last year.
he 2016 figures for Asia remain grim but in fact reflect a mixed picture for security analysts. Since 2015, greater efforts by Southeast Asian states like the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia to decrease piracy and armed robbery incidents in Asian waters led to the creation of joint coordinated patrols and response teams to conduct counter-piracy operations. These have had some effect; there were 23 arrests in Asia for piracy in 2016, and a 35 percent fall in recorded piracy-related incidents compared with 2015. That year saw 199 such instances compared with 2016’s 129 recorded attacks. But while the fall in the number of overall incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea collected by OBP in 2016 reflects well on the improved effectiveness of regional cooperation and information sharing mechanisms, it is not the whole story.
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Image Anti-Terrorist Units of the Philippine and Japanese Coast Guards (R) hold a joint anti-piracy drill at a bay in Manila (May 6, 2015).Image Credit: REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco