The ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has recorded the lowest level of reported global piracy and armed robbery incidents since 1993 but calls for continued vigilance and naval response in its first quarter piracy and armed robbery report for 2023.
The report reveals that 27 incidents were reported in the first quarter of the year, representing a marked decline from 37 incidents for the same period in 2022.
Of the 27 incidents, perpetrators boarded the victims’ vessels in 24 cases, two vessels reported attempted incidents and one vessel was hijacked. Despite the drop in numbers, the threat of violence remains – six crew kidnapped, two were taken hostage, two were threatened and one was assaulted.
Pirate and armed robbery activity continue to decrease in the Gulf of Guinea, an area which had become a relative hotbed for this crime in recent history. Just five incidents were reported in Q1 2023 compared to eight in 2022 and 16 in 2021.
Despite these improvements, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre is calling for coastal response agencies and international navies to maintain efforts in the region.
On 25 March, a product tanker was hijacked 140nm WSW of Pointe Noire, The Congo. The vessel effectively lost all communications for nearly five days and when located by a French naval asset, six crew were reported as kidnapped. This highlights the continued need for vigilance and swift naval responses when incidents are reported.
IMB Director Michael Howlett said: “We emphasise the need for continued, robust and coordinated regional and international naval presence to act as a deterrent to prevent and respond to piracy – especially considering nearly 85 per cent of international trade is transported via the sea and it is the seafarers who need to be safeguarded.
IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre continues to serve as a crucial, 24-hour point of contact to report crimes of piracy and lend support to ships under threat. Quick reactions and a focus on coordinating with response agencies, sending out warning broadcasts and email alerts to ships have all helped bolster security on the high seas. The data gathered by the Centre also provides key insights into the nature and state of modern piracy.