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.


Image source: ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB)

The first quarter piracy and armed robbery report for 2023, recorded 27 incidents in Q1 2023, 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 taken hostage, two threatened and one assaulted, the report revealed.

Pirate and armed robbery activity continues to decrease in the Gulf of Guinea, an area which had become a relative hotbed for this crime in recent history, with just five incidents reported in Q1 2023 compared to eight in 2022 and 16 in 2021.

However, the recent hijacking of a tanker in late March, 140 nautical miles off Pointe Noire, highlights the continued need for vigilance and swift naval responses when incidents are reported, said the report. It said that the vessel effectively lost all communications for nearly five days and when located by a French naval asset, six crew were reported as kidnapped.

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 percent of international trade is transported via the sea and it is the seafarers who need to be safeguarded.”

Almost 30 percent of the incidents in the first quarter occurred in the Singapore Straits with eight recorded cases – a decrease from the 15 incidents reported in Q1 2022. While incidents in this region tend to be cases of petty theft, the threat of violence remains a worrisome possibility, with knives sighted and reported in two of the incidents, said the IMB.

Approximately 33 percent of global incidents occurred in South America, with Callao anchorage, Peru, remaining an area of particular concern. Five reported incidents occurred there in Q1 2023 – a number which has remained steady in recent years.

Crew, however, continue to be at risk with two crew taken hostage and one each assaulted and threatened.