Latest global piracy report shows danger in the Gulf of Guinea


A total of 156 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported to the ICC International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) in the first nine months of 2018 compared to 121 for the same period in 2017.

The 2018 figure is 107 vessels boarded, 32 attempted attacks, 13 vessels fired on and four vessels hijacked with no vessels reported hijacked in the third quarter. This is first time since 1994 when no vessel hijackings have been reported in two consecutive quarters.

Incidents of this crime persist, with the number of crew members held hostage increasing in comparison to the same period in 2017—from 80 incidents to 112 by the third quarter of 2018.

Pottengal Mukundan, IMB director, said: “While the record low number of hijackings in the second and third quarters of 2018 is to be celebrated, incidents of maritime piracy and armed robbery remain common. ICC urges governments to leverage data available from the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre to concentrate resources in these hotspots.”

Shifting piracy trends in the Gulf of Guinea

Statistically, the Gulf of Guinea accounts for 57 of the 156 reported incidents. Most of these incidents are reported in and around Nigeria (41); the Nigerian Navy actively responded and dispatched patrol boats promptly when incidents have been reported. There is a noticeable increase in the number of vessels boarded at Ghana’s Takoradi anchorage.

Thirty-seven of the 39 crew kidnappings for ransom globally occurred in the Gulf of Guinea region in seven separate incidents. A total of 29 crew members were kidnapped in four separate incidents off Nigeria—including a 12 crew kidnapping from a bulk carrier off Bonny Island, Nigeria in September 2018.

In other world regions, incidents of piracy and armed robbery are comparatively fewer. No new incidents were reported off the coast of Somalia in the third quarter of 2018, while two fishermen were reported kidnapped off Semporna, Malaysia in September 2018.

Incidents in the remaining regions, including some Latin America countries, border on low-level opportunistic theft. IMB continues to encourage masters and crew members to be aware of these risks and report incidents to the 24-hour manned PRC. The Centre will ensure reported incidents are relayed without delay to the appropriate response agency and liaise with the ship, its operators and the response agency until the vessel is deemed safe.