Asia piracy incidents highest in five years

More needs to be done to safeguard shipping amid pandemic, says regional leader

Asia piracy incidents highest in five years

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

Total piracy incidents in Asia have risen by 17% for 2020, marking the highest level in five years, according to an international watchdog. The number of actual incidents also rose by 32%.

In its annual report for 2020, the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) said there were 97 incidents of piracy and armed robbery in the region, comprising 95 actual incidents and 2 attempted incidents.

The increase of incidents occurred in Bangladesh, India, the Philippines, Vietnam, South China Sea and the Singapore Strait. Despite the increase, the severity of the incidents remained moderate. There was one CAT1 incident (the most severe), while 74% of incidents were CAT4 – perpetrators were not armed and crew were unharmed.

The report also identified two significant areas of concern. The Singapore Strait saw an increase of incidents, with 34 in 2020 (up from 31 in 2019). Meanwhile, in the Sulu-Celebes Seas between Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, there was one incident of crew abduction in 2020. Since March 2016, a total of 86 crewmembers were abducted in the region, with four remaining in captivity.

China and Malaysia saw improvements, with the former recording no incidents, compared to three the previous year, while the latter’s incidents went down from eight to three.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of shipping for global trade. The 32% year-on-year increase in the actual incidents in 2020 is a stark reminder that more needs be done to enhance the safety of maritime transport and safeguard the well-being of crew,” said Masafumi Kuroki, Executive Director of ReCAAP ISC.

“Beyond vigilance, timely reporting by ships, enhanced patrol by enforcement agencies, as well as cooperation between littoral States, we believe that arrest and bringing perpetrators to justice is an essential deterrence to stop the increase of incidents.”

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