Sea hijackings fell 83% in 2016 – compared with 2015 – new figures show

After the first hijacking off the coast of Somalia for five years – Monday’s hijacking of the eight crew members of oil tanker Aris 13 by pirates in two skiffs – figures from the consultancy Control  Risks show that  global maritime kidnaps rose by 44% in 2016 compared with 2015.

However the risk consultancy reported an 83% fall in maritime hijacks in 2016 – compared with the previous year. The figure was driven by a “significant decline in hijacks-for-cargo and hijacks-for-bunker theft in South-east Asia and the Gulf of Guinea following improvements in regional law enforcement”.

The consultancy said: “The downward trend in the Gulf of Guinea and South-east Asia will continue in 2017, as Nigerian and Indonesian naval forces respectively continue their targeting of organised criminal syndicates.” It said the increase in kidnaps was driven by an “uptick in the Gulf of Guinea compared with 2015 and an unprecedented number of offshore abductions in the Sulu and Celebes Seas.”

Another evolving trend in 2016 was the significant increase in cases where militants or terrorists targeted port infrastructure, naval and commercial vessels or offshore platforms. Libya and Yemen accounted for most of these, with several high-profile attacks recorded.

Sebastian Villyn, Maritime Risk Analyst at Control Risks, said: “The trends seen globally in 2016 highlight the dynamic nature of groups engaged in offshore crime. The interplay between sociopolitical developments onshore and the frequency of offshore crime was particularly visible in the Gulf of Guinea, and it was also telling how assailants in different regions are responding to security measures, or lack thereof, for instance in South-east Asia.

“Despite an overall global decrease in maritime security incidents, high-severity cases of maritime terrorism and kidnaps increased. These trends are likely to continue and pose a significant threat to maritime operators in 2017. Operators should therefore ensure that they have access to reliable and up-to-date information on the current threat landscape.”