A total of 64 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported in Asia during January-September 2018, according to Asia’s piracy watchdog ReCAAP.
Of the 64 incidents, comprising 50 actual incidents and 14 attempted incidents, three were incidents of piracy and 61 were incidents of armed robbery against ships. The number of actual incidents reported during the period was the lowest among the 10-year period of January-September of 2009-2018, ReCAAP said.
Compared to January-September 2017, there was a 3% increase in the total number of incidents reported during January-September 2018.
Despite the slowdown in pirate activity, the piracy watchdog warned that the threat of abduction of crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas, and waters off Eastern Sabah remains.
Namely, two incidents, comprising one actual incident and one attempted incident, were reported during January-September 2018 compared to seven incidents reported during the same period in 2017. The most recent attack saw two fishermen abducted from a fishing boat Sri Dewi 1 on September 11.
Since March 2016 till September 2018, a total of 63 crew had been abducted. Of these, 33 had been released, 15 rescued, seven killed and as of 30 Sep 18, eight crew are still in captivity, ReCAAP’s data shows. The Philippine authorities continue to conduct pursuit operations and military operations to rescue the abducted crew.
ReCAAP added that the increase in incidents on board ships at ports and anchorages in Chittagong, Bangladesh and off Samarinda in East Kalimantan, Indonesia; as well as on board ships while underway in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore (SOMS) was a concerning trend.
“Ships are strongly advised to enhance vigilance against presence of suspicious boats; and enforcement agencies are requested to enhance patrol and surveillance in areas of concern and make quick response to all incidents. Ships at slow speed and low freeboard such as fishing boats and tug boats are mostly boarded, but bigger merchant ships can be also targeted as occurred in the past,” ReCAAP warned.