Piracy incidents in Asia down 32% in first half

Inter-governmental body notes reduction in incidents, but some hotspots remain

Piracy incidents in Asia down 32% in first half


By Gabriel Olano

Marine piracy incidents in the first half of 2019 have decreased by 32%, according to a report by the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against ships in Asia (ReCAAP).

The organisation’s midyear report stated that there were a total of 28 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships (25 actual incidents and three attempted incidents) from January 01 to June 30. This is 32% lower than during the same period last year, when there were a total of 41 incidents (29 actual and 12 attempted).

Bangladesh and Vietnam were singled out for improved conditions, as both countries’ ports and anchorages did not report any incidents for the first six months of this year, as compared to six in Bangladesh and two in Vietnam for the first half of 2018. Indonesia also reported an over 50% decrease in incidents, from 20 to nine.

The report noted the concerning recurrence of one incident of abduction of crew for ransom on June 18 in the waters off Eastern Sabah, Malaysia, which demonstrates the high risk of crew abduction in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah.

ReCAAP advised all ships in the area to find a different route if possible, exercise vigilance, and report to Philippine and Malaysian authorities that have jurisdiction over the area.

An increase in number of incidents was reported in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. A total of eight actual incidents were reported during the first half of 2019 compared to five incidents (three actual and two attempted) during the same period last year. All the eight incidents during January to June 2019 were CAT 4 (or petty theft) incidents.

“The ReCAAP information sharing centre (ISC) encourages ship masters and crew to exercise enhanced vigilance when transiting areas of concern and make immediate reporting of all incidents to the nearest coastal state,” the report said. “The ReCAAP ISC urges the authorities to provide prompt response to the reports of incidents.

“The ReCAAP ISC reiterates the importance of collective efforts and shared responsibility among all stakeholders, including the shipping industry and authorities in their efforts to address the situation of piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia.”

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