IMB Report: Gulf of Guinea remains piracy hotspot

A Nigerian naval member sits in a vessel during a multinational maritime exercise. Credit: PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images

There have been 119 reported incidents of piracy and armed robbery this year compared to 156 incidents in the same time period in 2018, according to the International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC) third quarter results..

In the first nine months of the year 95 vessels have been boarded, 10 vessels fired upon, 10 attempted hijacks and 4 successful vessel hijackings carried out. Crew kidnappings and hostage numbers are also down this year, with 49 compared to 112 in 2018.

The IMB results, however, show that despite the number of incidents decreasing, compared to last year, the number of incidents involving weapons such as guns and knives remain consistent. There have been 35 gun-related and 24 knife-related incidents year to date, compared with 37 and 24 respectively for the same time period last year.

The trend of maritime violence experienced in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) remains the same, as the region accounts for 86% of global crew hostages situations and approximately 82% of crew kidnappings. SAS has reported on the growing number of incidents in the GoG; in august 17 crew were kidnapped simultaneously from a general cargo and bulk carried at anchorage in Douala, Cameroon. In July, 10 crew were kidnapped from a Turkish cargo ship Paksoy-1, and in May a heavy transport vessel was hijacked off the coast of Equatorial Guinea.

“Although incidents are down, the Gulf of Guinea continues to be a concern for piracy and armed robbery-related activities with kidnappings of crew members increasing in both scale and frequency,” said Pottengal Mukundan, director, ICC IMB. “It is important that shipmasters and owners continue to report all actual, attempted, and suspected incidents to ensure that an accurate picture of these attacks emerge, and action is taken against these criminals before the incidents further escalate.”

Indonesia, on the other hand, is also following the trend set this year with a continued reported decline in overall piracy related incidents, with 20 actual or attempted attacks year to date. This is attributed to increased information sharing between the Indonesian Marine Police and the IMB PRC.

Further, there have been no piracy related incidents recorded in Somalia, however, the IMB PRC advises seafarers to remain cautious in the area as Somali pirates still possess the capacity to carry out attacks in the Indian Ocean.