One coastal tanker is hijacked every two weeks on average in Southeast Asia, the latest piracy report from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has warned.
“The frequency of these hijackings in Southeast Asia is an increasing cause for concern. There’s a risk that the attacks and violence could increase,” said Pottengal Mukundan, the director of IMB, which is a division of the International Chamber of Commerce.
Most attacks are carried out by armed gangs targeting small coastal tankers for their fuel cargoes. According to the IMB, Southeast Asia accounts for 55% of the world’s 54 piracy and armed robbery incidents since the start of 2015. Twenty-three ship hijackings have been reported in the region since 2014, of which six occurred in 1Q 2015, when five tankers and an offshore tug were targeted.
Indonesia accounted for almost 40% of this year’s attacks, with two hijackings and 19 vessel boardings. The IMB also reports that “the overwhelming majority of incidents are low-level, opportunistic thefts, although the attackers here are usually armed with knives, machetes or guns.”
Another area under scrutiny is Vietnam with an increase in armed robbery incidents – there have been eight reports in the past three months alone.
West Africa remains a hotspot for violent piracy, and one man was killed when a fishing vessel was hijacked off Ghana earlier this year. Nigerian pirates kidnapped five crew members in two separate incidents and additionally a small product tanker was also reported hijacked.
Somali piracy is under control as the IMB had no reports of incidents for Q1 2015 but emphasises the importance of following best management practices on board as the threat has not been entirely eliminated.
Despite some positive results, statistics also show that, after a steady drop in global piracy in the past few years, attacks rose by 10% and the number of hostages worldwide tripled in Q1 2015 compared with the same period last year. Pirates took 140 hostages, a total of 13 seafarers were assaulted and three injured.