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Piracy and Maritime Robbery Tracker Reports 15 Percent Decrease in Asia Incidents

The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) Information Sharing Centre (ISC) released its half-yearly report covering January through June this week. ReCAAP is the first regional government-to-government agreement to promote and enhance cooperation against piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia. ReCAAP ISC enhances regional cooperation through information sharing, capacity building and cooperative arrangements.

The report highlighted a 15 percent decrease in incidents in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2017. Forty incidents were reported, with 29 of those attacks carried out and 11 attempted. Thirty-seven of the 40 (92 percent) consisted of armed robbery against ships and three (8 percent) were piracy. This is also the lowest number in the 10-year period (2009-2018) of January to June. There were no Category 1 or 2 incidents in the reporting period, marking the least number of severe incidents since 2009.

However, concern was noted due to the slight increase of incidents in the Singapore Strait (from two cases in Jan.-June 2017 to four cases in Jan.-June 2018) and at ports and anchorages in Vietnam (from zero cases in Jan.-June 2017 to two cases in Jan.-June 2018).

“Looking back to the number of incidents in 2017, which increased by 16 percent compared to 2016, the 15 percent decrease in the first half of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017 is welcome news. Nonetheless, continued vigilance by all stakeholders is an effective deterrence to maritime crime, and we urge heightened measures to be taken in the areas of concern,” said Masafumi Kuroki, executive director of ReCAAP ISC.

Using data analytics, ReCAAP ISC analyzed the main characteristics of incidents at ports and anchorages in Bangladesh, the Philippines and Vietnam as well as incidents onboard ships while underway in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, particularly the Singapore Strait.

Analysis of the nature of the attacks in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore found that the majority of perpetrators operated in groups of four to six men (40 percent) and 64 percent of the perpetrators were not armed/not stated, while 30 percent were armed with knives/machetes.

In the Singapore Strait, more incidents occurred in the western sector than the eastern sector of the Singapore Strait (85 in the western sector, 26 in the eastern sector).

Data analytics also found a correlation between the types of losses and types of ships: Engine spares tended to be the most common items stolen from bulk carriers and tankers in the eastbound lane of the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) in the western sector, while cash and property tended to be the most common items stolen from tugboats and supply vessels in the eastbound lane of the TSS in the western sector. Scrap metal tended to be the most common item stolen from barges towed by tugboats in the westbound lane of the TSS in the western sector.

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