Maritime piracy and armed robbery attacks have reached the lowest recorded level since 1994, the annual piracy report of the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB), published today, reveals.
The bureau attributes the drop in incidents to vigorous action taken by authorities, but has called for continued coordination and vigilance to ensure the long-term protection of seafarers.
IMB director Michael Howlett said: “While the overall reduction in globally reported incidents is welcomed, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre urges coastal states to acknowledge the inherent risk from piracy and armed robbery and robustly address this crime within the waters of their exclusive economic zone. The reporting centre remains committed to actively engage and exchange information with coastal states to promote safety for seafarers and trade.”
In 2021, 132 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported, comprising 115 vessels boarded, 11 attempted attacks, five vessels fired upon and one vessel hijacked.
According to the IMB, the Gulf of Guinea remains the world’s top piracy hotspot, but the increased presence of international naval vessels and cooperation with regional authorities has had a positive impact – and this includes robust actions of the Royal Danish Navy in neutralising a suspected pirate action group in late November.
The overall reduction in reported incidents in 2021 is attributed to a decline of activity reported within the Gulf of Guinea region which has seen a decrease from 81 reported incidents in 2020 to 34 in 2021. However, while kidnappings at sea dropped 55% in 2021, the Gulf of Guinea continues to account for all kidnapping incidents globally, with 57 crew taken in seven separate incidents.
And while the regional decrease is welcomed, the reporting centre warns that the threat to seafarers persists and it has urged crews and vessels plying these waters to be cautious as the perpetrators remain violent and risk to crews remains high. This is evidenced by the kidnapping of six innocent crew from a container vessel in mid-December.