Reported piracy and armed robbery incidents in the first quarter of 2023 were the lowest Q1 figures since 1993 according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).
The latest figures reveal 27 incidents were reported in the first quarter of the year, representing a marked decline from 37 incidents for the same period in 2022.
Of the 27 incidents, perpetrators boarded the victims’ vessels in 24 cases, with two attempted incidents and hijacking. Six crew were kidnapped, two were taken hostage, two threatened and one assaulted according to IMB.
IMB said the Gulf of Guinea has been a “hotbed” of piracy and armed robbery in recent years though just five cases were report in the first quarter 2023, down from eight in Q1 2022 and 16 in Q1 2021.
Despite these improvements, the IMB is calling for coastal response agencies and international navies to maintain efforts in the region. It noted the hijacking of a product tanker on March 25, 140nm WSW of Pointe Noire, The Congo. After five days of no communication, the vessel was located by a French naval asset and six crew were reported as kidnapped.
IMB Director Michael Howlett said, “We emphasise the need for continued, robust and coordinated regional and international naval presence to act as a deterrent to prevent and respond to piracy- especially considering nearly 85% of international trade is transported via the sea and it is the seafarers who need to be safeguarded.”
Almost 30% of Q1 2023 incidents occurred in the Singapore Straits, with eight recorded cases – a decrease from the 15 incidents reported in Q1 2022. While incidents in this region tend to be cases of petty theft, the threat of violence remains a worrisome possibility, with knives sighted and reported in two of the incidents.
About 33% of global incidents occurred in South America, with Callao anchorage, Peru remaining an area of particular concern. Five reported incidents occurred there in Q1 2023, a number which has remained steady in recent years. Crew however continue to be at risk with two crew taken hostage and one each assaulted and threatened.