Singapore - Coastal nations around the Singapore Strait must step up surveillance and patrols of the strategic waterway after a sharp rise in piracy incidents last year, maritime watchdog ReCAAP said on Wednesday.
The number of piracy and armed robbery incidents in the Strait jumped to 31 in 2019, up from seven in 2018 and the highest since 99 in 2015, the group said in a report.
The incidents occurred amid a slight uptick in sea robberies across Asia with 82 total incidents, still the second-lowest since 2007. They were mainly minor cases of scrap metal theft although some did involve knives, machetes and, in one instance, a gun, the group said.
“We would like to ask the littoral states - Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia - to enhance the surveillance and control in the Singapore Strait because of this rapid increase of incidents,” ReCAAP executive director Masafumi Kuroki said.
ReCAAP has received a number of enquiries from shipping firms expressing concern about the increase, Kuroki said.
Military leaders from Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand will hold talks this week in the city-state to discuss the increase of sea robberies in the Strait and possible measures to disrupt such incidents, Singapore’s defense ministry said on Wednesday.