Piracy increased in the first quarter of 2020, with the Gulf of Guinea continuing to hold its position as the most dangerous waters in the world.
There were 47 attacks reported around the world in the first quarter, up from 38 in the same period of 2019, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reported. The Gulf of Guinea accounted for 21 attacks in the period, of which 12 vessels were under way at an average distance from shore of 70 nautical miles (130 km).
Attackers are usually armed and approach in speedboats, boarding ships in order to steal cargoes and abduct crew. All vessels are at risk, the IMB said. During the period, 17 crewmembers were kidnapped in three incidents.
The agency welcomed progress by regional state’s and international navies in responding to attacks. Of the attacks, 11 took place off Nigeria and three each off Angola and Benin. The IMB warned that its numbers were likely incomplete, with shortfalls in reporting of attacks.
Attacks are increasing off Congo Brazzaville’s Pointe Noire and dropped off Cote d’Ivoire’s Abidjan.
No hijackings were reported around the world in the last two quarters and no incidents were reported off Somalia.
“Navy patrols, onboard security measures, co-operation and transparent information exchange between authorities, are all factors which help address the crimes of piracy and armed robbery,” said the IMB director Michael Howlett. There is still a real threat to crews, he continued.
“Ships’ masters must continue to follow industry best practice diligently and maintain watches. Early detection of an approaching pirate skiff is often key to avoiding an attack,” Howlett said.
The most commonly attacked vessel type around the world were chemical or product tankers.