28 OCT 2021

Reported incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea fell to the lowest recorded number in nearly three decades in the first nine months of 2021, according to the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

IMB’s latest global quarterly piracy report showed 97 incidents of piracy and armed robbery were reported worldwide to the IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC), including 85 vessels boarded, nine attempted attacks, two vessels fired upon and one vessel hijacked. The represents the lowest level of reported incidents since 1994, the IMB said.

While reported incidents have fallen to the lowest in decades, violence against seafarers has continued with 51 crew kidnapped, eight taken hostage, five threatened, three injured, two assaulted and one killed, according to the latest IMB statistics. Still, the IMB PRC warns that seafarers must remain vigilant as violence against crew remains high in many areas of the world.

Gulf of Guinea

Incidents in the Gulf of Guinea region, the global hotspot for pirate activity over the last several years, fell to 28 incidents of piracy and armed robbery in the first nine months of 2021, in comparison to 46 for the same period in 2020. Most notably, Nigeria only reported four incidents in the first nine months of 2021, in comparison to 17 in 2020 and 41 in 2018.

Crew kidnappings in the region have also dropped with only one crew member kidnapped in Q3 2021, compared to 31 crew members taken in five separate incidents during Q3 2020. All incidents reported in the third quarter of this were also against vessels at port anchorages, while the average successful kidnapping location during the same period in 2020 was approximately 100 nautical miles from land.

“We welcome the decrease of piracy and armed robbery attacks in the Gulf of Guinea and the efforts taken by maritime authorities in the region,” said Michael Howlett, Director, ICC International Maritime Bureau. “However, there needs to be sustained efforts to ensure the continued safety of seafarers as they transport essential goods throughout the region. Coastal States must redouble their coordination and security measures to ensure that piracy and armed robbery incidents continue to decline.”

Singapore Straits

The Singapore Straits reported 20 incidents of armed robbery – the highest number recorded since 1991. Reported incidents in the area are up from 15 in 2020 and just one incident in 2019. These attacks are low-level and opportunistic in nature, according to the IMB, but it warns that the perpetrators pose a direct threat to seafarers and vessels underway. In four incidents, crew were either threatened, assaulted, or injured.


The Callao Anchorage in Peru is another area that has witnessed an increase of piracy activity with 15 reported incidents in 2021 – the highest number since 1991. As with the Singapore Straits, these incidents are low-level thefts with knives being reported in 60% of the incidents, according to the IMB. But attackers in the region possess the capacity to carry out violent attacks, as three crew were taken hostage and assaulted or threatened during the first nine months of 2021.


The IMB PRC reported a noticeable reduction in the number of reported incidents in Indonesian waters with only six low-level incidents reported in the first nine months of 2021, compared to 23 incidents during the same period in 2020. This is the lowest total of reported piracy and armed robbery incidents in Indonesian waters since 1993, the IMB said, commending policies and proactive response measures implemented by the Indonesian Marine Police.


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