London - The first quarter of 2019 saw fewer incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships, compared to the first three months of 2018, a report shows. According to the report issued by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB), there were 38 incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea in the first quarter of this year. This represents 28 fewer incidents or a decrease of 42.4%, compared to the corresponding period last year when 66 incidents were recorded. IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre detailed that 27 vessels were boarded, seven vessels were fired upon and four attempted attacks occurred in Q1 2019. No vessels were reported as hijacked for the first time since the first quarter of 1994: “These latest statistics from the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre are encouraging. However, first quarter statistics is too short a period on which to anticipate trends over the year,” Pottengal Mukundan, IMB Director, said. The Gulf of Guinea represented a high number of piracy and armed robbery attacks at sea, with 22 incidents reported in the first quarter of 2019. The region also accounted for all of the worldwide crew kidnappings as 21 crew members were kidnapped across five separate incidents. Incidents were reported in the coastal countries of Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria and Togo in the first quarter of 2019. Nigeria has been a hotspot for piracy incidents over the past decade. However, in the first quarter of 2019, Nigeria experienced a decrease in reported piracy incidents. The country reported 14 incidents of piracy for Q1 2019, in comparison to 22 incidents in Q1 2018. These results confirm the Nigerian Navy’s increased efforts to “actively respond to reported incidents by dispatching patrol boats,” the report notes. Despite these efforts, Nigerian waters remain risky for vessels, especially the port of Lagos where four incidents have been reported. In Asia, Indonesia witnessed a drop in piracy activities for the first quarter of 2019. There were only three incidents reported against anchored vessels in ports in Indonesia – the fewest reported incidents since 2010 – according to the report.
As with Nigeria, increased cooperation and information sharing between the Indonesian Marine Police and IMB Piracy Reporting Centre has enabled regular patrols in high-risk areas.
The declining rate of piracy incidents worldwide in the first quarter of 2019 reinforces the importance of transparency, communication and coordination between vessels and coastal authorities, IMB stressed.