Piracy incidents in Asia down, crew abduction remains ‘serious threat’: ReCAAP

Masafumi Kuroki, executive director of ReCAAP ISC Masafumi Kuroki, executive director of ReCAAP ISC

Incidents of piracy and armed robbery in Asia have declined in 2018 over the previous year, marking the lowest number of incidents since 2007 based on records kept by ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ISC).

In its 2018 annual report, ReCAAP ISC recorded 76 incidents in Asia comprising 62 actual incidents and 14 attempted incidents. This represents a decrease of 25% in the total number of incidents and a 31% decrease in actual incidents compared to 2017.

Of the 76 incidents, four were incidents of piracy, while 72 were armed robbery against ships.

There was also a decrease in incident of abduction of crew for ransom in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah last year, with two actual and one attempted incidents reported last year compared to three actual and four attempted incidents in 2017.

Masafumi Kuroki, executive director of ReCAAP ISC, pointed out that despite the decrease in the number of kidnap for ransom incidents, such cases remain a “serious threat” for shipping and seafarers in the affected areas.

Another area of concern is that there were more than 10 incidents at ports and anchorages in Bangladesh’ Chittagong and in Indonesia’s Samarinda.

Read more: Imminent threat of seafarer kidnap for ransom remains off Southern Philippines, warns ReCAAP

“While ReCAAP ISC welcomes the recent downward trend in the number of incidents of piracy and sea robbery in Asia, we urge the law enforcement/regulatory authorities and shipping industry to continue the vigilance and cooperation that has led to the decrease,” Kuroki said.

“In Asia, more than 90% of the incidents are armed robbery against ships, which occur in territorial waters of the coastal states. Therefore, the ownership and efforts of the coastal states in deterring, detecting, and apprehending perpetrators is vital in reducing the number of incidents in Asia, as are the vigilance and preventive measures by ships,” he added.

The decline in incidents was attributed to a few factors, including the successful arrests of perpetrators in Bangladesh, India, Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia, enhanced patrols, and increased reporting of incidents to the authorities for swift respond.

“Cooperation between shipping companies and law enforcement is a very effective way to reduce incidents,” he said.

Kuroki also noted that there was no theft of oil cargo last year, while two attempted incidents led to successful arrest of the mastermind and perpetrators in both incidents.

Meanwhile, ReCAAP ISC has collected the data of 1,560 incidents or piracy and armed robbery in Asia over the past 12 years starting 2007.
Using data analytics, ReCAAP ISC has made several observations of past incidents on the patterns concerning the number of perpetrators, the weapons used, treatment of crew, items stolen, the types of ships boarded, and time of incidents reported in Asia.

Some characteristics of the incidents are that the majority of the incidents involved four to six perpetrators (34%) or one to three perpetrators (24%); more than 81% of the incidents reported that the crew did not suffer from any injures or there was no information on the condition of the crew; in 32% of the incidents perpetrators escaped empty-handed; and there was no evidence to suggest that certain types of ships were targeted but 63% of incidents occurred on board either tankers or bulk carriers.

Posted 16 January 2019

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Lee Hong Liang

Asia Correspondent

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