Maritime Piracy on the Rise – But Not Everywhere
Global trade could not be possible without the shipping industry as it is responsible for the transportation of about 90% of world trade. According to the International Chamber of Shipping, this industry generates an estimated annual income of over half a trillion US Dollars in freight rates. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the shipping industry attracts the attention of unsavoury characters, namely pirates, trying to get their share by illegal means. Since there are over 50,000 merchant ships carrying cargo worldwide, there are plenty of chances for them to strike and they rarely miss an opportunity, the latest reports on maritime piracy show.
Growth of Maritime Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea
While in 2017 there were 180 recorded acts of maritime piracy and armed robberies, this number grew to 201 such incidents worldwide in 2018, reveals the annual piracy report from the International Maritime Bureau. The riskiest area was established as the Gulf of Guinea, where pirate attacks have doubled. For example, 130 people were kidnapped in the area out of 141 such occurrences overall around the world. Other incidents in the Gulf included six boat robberies and 13 armed attacks against ships, the report shows.
Experts claim that the growth of such acts in the region is due to pirates looking for targets further out in the sea and choosing any kind of ship to attack, from fishing boats to bulk carriers, costing the economy billions. For Nigeria alone, where 41 kidnappings took place the previous year, piracy has cost an estimated $2.8 billion in revenues in 2018, according to the „Report by the Secretary-General on the activities of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel“.
The Gulf of Guinea pirates have already made their mark in 2019 too. On 2 January, pirates attacked Mediterranean Shipping Company‘s 2,668 TEU container ship “MSC Mandy” off the coast of Cotonou, Benin. Six crew members were reported missing after the incident occurred.
Asia Gets a Relief
Although, it’s not all bad news. Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) Information Sharing Centre announced that piracy and armed robbery levels have hit an all-time low since it started keeping records in 2007.
Reportedly, in 2018 there were 76 total incidents, a 25% decrease compared to 2017 when 101 acts against ships occurred. Asia can finally celebrate the decline in piracy numbers along with a number of successful arrests of offenders in 2018 in Bangladesh, India, Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.
However, the shipping community is urged to continue to be vigilant and use the information on the riskiest locations and patterns of the perpetrators to prepare for all possible scenarios. Hopefully, it will help to lessen the number of incidents in the future, not only in Asia but worldwide as well.
What should the industry do to fight the growing threat of maritime piracy? Ask shipping majors and government officials during premium networking breaks at the 4th International Green & Smart Shipping Summit in Rotterdam on 8-9 October 2019. For tickets to the event, visit www.gssummit.org.