The first nine months of 2018 has seen the number of pirate attacks on merchant vessels around the world rise from 121 to 156, according to a report by the ICC International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre.
The ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB)’s ‘Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships’ report breaks the figure down as 107 vessels boarded, 32 attempted attacks, 13 vessels fired upon and four vessels.
However, no vessels were reported hijacked in the third quarter for the first time since 1994 when none were reported for two consecutive quarters.
The number of crew members held hostage has increased in comparison to the same period in 2017 – a jump from 80 to 112.
According to the report, the most dangerous part of the world for merchant ships remains the Gulf of Guinea.
The region was responsible for 57 out of the 156 reported attacks, with the majority of these taking place on or near the coast of Nigeria. Its neighbour Ghana has also seen a noticeable increase in attacks, particularly in the number of vessels boarded by pirates.
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The region has been blighted by several high profile attacks, including a 12-crew kidnapping from a bulk carrier off Bonny Island, Nigeria in September 2018.
On September 27, 11 crew members were taken hostage in an attack on the MV Pomerania, which at the time of writing is under investigation.
A report in August 2018 from EOS Risk, a world-leading global security services company, stated that 35 seafarers had been kidnapped in the first half of 2018 and warned that political instability in the Niger Delta was a contributing factor.
Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB, commented: “While the record low number of hijackings in the second and third quarters of 2018 is of course to be celebrated, incidents of maritime piracy and armed robbery remain common.
“ICC urges governments to leverage the timely data available from the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre to concentrate resources in these hotspots”.