Piracy on the rise in the Gulf of Guinea

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The Gulf of Guinea on Africa’s upper west coast is again highlighted as a world piracy hotspot in the latest International Maritime Bureau (IMB) statistics.

London-based IMB, a specialised division of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), reports “a rise in incidents” in the Gulf of Guinea over the January-September period this year. At the same time it notes “concerns” for the Singapore Straits.

IMB Director Michael Howlett, commenting on the latest statistics, said: “The Gulf of Guinea stands as a region of concern with a rise in reported incidents, as opposed to the downward trend seen in the past two years”.

Reported incidents increased to 21 in in the first nine months of 2023 the Gulf of Guinea, up from 14 for the same period in 2022. Seventeen were classified as armed robberies and four as piracy with a mounting concern for crew as 54 were taken hostage, 14 kidnapped and two were injured.

On the Singapore Straits, analysis of reports submitted to the IMB, show 33 incidents – up two from the corresponding period for the previous year. Thirty-one vessels were boarded with five crew taken hostage and two threatened with 25% of incidents reported in July alone. In most cases, ships’ stores or property were reported stolen.

Worldwide, 99 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported in the first nine months of 2023 up from 90 for the same period in 2022.

Eighty-five vessels were boarded with nine attempted attacks, three hijackings and two fired on. Perpetrators successfully boarded 89% of targeted vessels with the majority of incidents taking place under cover of darkness.

Reported violence towards crew members is among the lowest in three decades with IMB warning “the risk to crew remains real with 69 taken hostage, 14 kidnapped, eight threatened, three injured and one assaulted”.

Both the Indonesian archipelago and South America reported increased incidents – 12 compared to 10 for the Indonesian body of water and 13 up from eight in Peru’s Callao Anchorage.