16 JULY 2019
The number of hijackings and armed attacks on ships sailing off Nigeria has dropped according to new figures from the International Piracy Reporting Centre, IMB.
For the Gulf of Guinea and off the coast of Nigeria, 21 pirate incidents were registered in the first half of 2019, a fall from 31 incidents in the same period of 2018. Globally, 78 cases of piracy and armed robbery against ships have been registered so far this year, compared to 107 incidents in the same period in 2018.
The decrease is due, among other things, to a faster effort by the Nigerian fleet, says Danish Shipping. “We are very pleased that the number of incidents is on the decline. The development emphasizes how important it is that countries in the exposed regions start to live up to their responsibility as to safeguarding their waters, and for the Gulf of Guinea, we have especially seen Nigeria making an important effort,” says Asbjørn Overgaard Christiansen, Acting Director of Security, Environment and Maritime Research at Danish Shipping.
Additionally, naval vessels from Equatorial Guinea and Spain intervened in May 2019 when a Nigerian tug was hijacked 41 nautical miles off Luba, Equatorial Guinea. Soon after, the pirates used the tug to launch an attack on a Maltese heavy load carrier. The crew retreated into the ship’s citadel, and when the navies responded, the pirates left the vessel and the crews were freed.
Although the number of incidents is declining, the Gulf of Guinea and especially the waters off Nigeria in West Africa are still the area most affected by violent assaults and hijackings. Eight out of nine incidents where pirates have fired upon merchant ships took place off Nigeria, while nearly half of the globally reported pirate incidents occurred in the Gulf of Guinea.
The Gulf of Guinea is therefore considered to be the area where there is the highest risk for seafarers. 73 percent of global hijackings and 92 percent of total hostage takings are registered in that area. 27 crew members were kidnapped in the first half of 2019 in the Gulf of Guinea which is almost equivalent to the 25 hijackings in the same period in 2018.
Meanwhile, in Malaysia, 10 crew were kidnapped from two fishing boats off eastern Sabah in June. Of these, nine are reported to have been released. The 11 incidents reported in Indonesian waters remains the lowest Q2 figure since 2009 when three incidents were reported.
A vessel was fired upon in the Guayas River after departing from Guayaquil, Ecuador’s second largest city. This is the first time an incident involving the firing of weapons has been reported to the IMB PRC in Ecuador.
Elsewhere in South America, incidents of violent armed theft against ships at anchor have been reported in Callao in Peru, Jose Terminal in Venezuela and Macapa in Brazil. On May 2, 2019, armed robbers boarded a yacht in San Ignacio de Tupile, Panama, shooting and killing one family member and injuring another. The surviving family members including two children were rescued by Panamanian Marine Police.
The IMB strongly urges all ship masters and owners to report all actual, attempted and suspected piracy and armed robbery incidents to the IMB PRC.