Q1 results in: Piracy down but kidnapping persists

Pirates surrender to HMS Cumberland's Royal Marines boarding team. Credit: MoD

The first quarter report of 2019 has been released by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) and shows fewer incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships compared to the same period in 2018.

The data was provided by IMB Piracy Reporting Centre, the 24-hour free IMB service for ship crew to report incidents of this kind. IMB reported 38 incidents of armed robbery at sea in the first three months of 2019, compared to 66 in the same time period for 2018. Further, 27 vessels were boarded, 7 vessels fired upon and 4 attempted attacks also occurred in Q1 2019.

However, the Gulf of Guinea remains at the forefront of piracy and robbery attacks, making up 22 of the 38 incidents reported this year. The region accounted for all the 21 global crew kidnappings over 5 separate incidents.

Nigeria, on the other hand, has experienced a decrease in piracy incidents, with 14 reported compared to 22 in 2018. The outcome appears to confirm the effectiveness of the Nigerian Navy, who have increased their efforts into tackling piracy in their waters. However, the report warns that Nigerian waters are still unsafe with four incidents reported in the port of Lagos alone.

Further, Indonesia too has experienced a decrease in piracy activities, with only three incidents reported in Indonesian ports, signaling the lowest period of activity since 2010. The Indonesian Marine Police has increased cooperation and information sharing with IMB Piracy Reporting Centre, as well as establishing regular patrols in areas deemed high risk.

The IMB report highlights the importance of incident reporting and transparency between vessels and coastal authorities. The decrease in piracy shows the effectiveness of national governments and port authorities in responding to piracy attacks and improved organisation. The report re-iterated the importance of continued collaboration to maintain these efforts and maintain this downward trend of piracy incidents.