The EMEA region has seen a drop in incidents of piracy and armed robbery over the first six months of 2015 overall – but there is a worsening of security in some areas, a new report has revealed.
Statistics issued by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) this week showed increased violence in Bangladesh, with 10 incidents in 2014 rising to 11 this year; Nigeria reported 11 incidents over 10 last year; Guinea, reported three this year, over none in 2014; and Congo had one incident this year, compared with none in 2014.
Attacks on international shipping in Bangladesh are the highest they have been during this period since 2010, when eight attacks were reported. The attacks, which occurred off Chittagong anchorages and approaches, involved 10 boardings, with “robbers armed mainly with knives and also guns looking to steal from vessels”, according to the IMB report.
In Africa zero incidents were reported for the Horn of Africa. However, the IMB advised that “the risk of being approached or attacked still exists”, and recommends vigilance and the continuation of private security measures.
IMB’s International Commercial Crime Services’ assistant director Cyrus Mody told IHS Maritime that navy intelligence networks advise that the capacity of Somali pirates to attack currently remains.
Best management practices, hardening of the ship, and 24-hour visual and radar watch are advised for transits in this area. Also, small boats, dhows and fishing vessels should be kept clear.
However, ships and their security teams are advised to note the difference between a fishing vessel and a pirate skiff.
Fishers in this region may try to protect their nets by attempting to “aggressively approach merchant vessels”, and some fishers “may be armed to protect their catch”. They “should not be confused with pirates”, said the report.
Dr Brittany Gilmer, a former consultant for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) high profile regional office, told IHS Maritime: “Fishers carry guns to protect themselves from pirates. But they need the international community to know that the smoking gun of piracy is a ladder. Fishers don’t need ladders but pirates do.”
Nigeria continues to be a concern. Pirates and robbers “are often well armed, [and] violent”, said the IMB. Vessels can be hijacked for several days, ransacked, and have their cargo (usually gas oil) stolen.
Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, and Togo have seen reduced incidents, although vigilance is advised by the IMB.