A report by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB) shows that Southeast Asia has replaced the coast of Africa as the world’s hottest spot for crimes at sea.
In the first half of 2015 pirates globally managed to board 106 vessels and were responsible for 13 hijackings and 15 attempted attacks it said.
According to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC), the only independent centre globally to receive reports of pirate attacks worldwide 24hours a day, in the first half of 2015 250 crew members were taken hostage, 14 assaulted, 10 kidnapped, nine injured, and one killed in crimes at sea.
A total of 136 reports of crimes at sea were received by the PRC in the first half of 2015, a 17.24 per cent YoY increase over the same period in 2014.
Indonesia Coast The Most Pirate Prone
Of the 91 crimes at sea incident reports for the Southeast Asia region in the first six months 54 of the actual and attempted attacks occurred off the coast of Indonesia, with a further 16 occurring in the Singapore Straights.
The IMB also noted an increase in the number of attempted and actual piracy attacks on small coastal tankers in Southeast Asia in the second quarter of 2015 with five vessels hijacked in the region during the period.
While the coast of Somalia has traditionally been a crimes at sea hotspot the IMB noted that in the second quarter there had been no reports received for the area; 11 incidents of crimes at sea were reported off the coast of Nigeria though, including the kidnapping of ten crew members in three incidents.
Closer to Southeast the IMB noted an increase in the number of crimes at sea reports off the coasts of Bangladesh and Chittagong, with reported incidents increasing 900 per cent, from one to ten, on a QoQ basis.
While the number of crimes at sea reports have jumped significantly over the same period in 2014, the IMB notes that many of the incidents relate to robberies rather than hijacking attempts while ships have been anchored or moving slowly through the Strait of Malacca.
Regional Cooperation Bringing Results
In an attempt to thwart the rising incidents of crimes at sea in the the region Malaysia and Indonesia have teamed up to establish rapid reaction teams to protect merchant vessels transiting the area.
Boosted by a helicopter from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), or coastguard, and Special Task and Rescue (Star) teams in Johor Bharu, the rapid reaction teams will be dispatched to respond to hijacking and robbery attacks on vessels 24-hours a day.
Increased regional cooperation is also proving to be effective. In July Vietnam authorities successfully tracked and apprehended an eight-man gang of Indonesian pirates who hijacked a Malaysian vessel in June, while nine Indonesian pirates were sentenced to jail in Malaysia in June for the January hijacking of a product tanker anchored off Johor Baru.
According to IMB director Pottengal Mukundan, “Information sharing and coordinated action between concerned coastal states is crucial in responding to this threat. We commend the effort that caught one gang and also the hefty custodial sentences imposed on another which will help deter further incidents.”
- Maritime piracy report reveals continued SE Asian attacks against small tankers (ICC Commercial Crimes Service)
- Indonesia Faces Resurgent Maritime Piracy Challenges (CogitAsia)
- Upsurge in piracy roils Southeast Asian waters (About Nikkei Asian Review)
- Pirates attack two container ships in Southeast Asia (JOC)
He has worked for the American Broadcasting Company (ABC); the Watertown Daily Times; Bangkok Post; UCA News; Asean Affairs and is a registered foreign correspondent in Thailand.
He is a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Washington, DC and also holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology. He enjoys writing about politics, economics and wine.
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