IMB Records Lowest Level of Q1 Piracy Since 1993

Image: ICC Commercial Crime Services.

The ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has recorded the lowest level of reported global piracy and armed robbery incidents since 1993, but has called for continued vigilance and naval response in its first quarter piracy and armed robbery report for 2023.

The report, which was released in April, revealed 27 incidents were reported in the first quarter of the year, representing a marked decline from 37 incidents for the same period in 2022.

Of the 27 incidents, perpetrators boarded the victims’ vessels in 24 cases, two vessels reported attempted incidents and one vessel was hijacked. Despite the drop in numbers, the threat of violence remains—six crew kidnapped, two taken hostage, two threatened and one assaulted.

Gulf of Guinea

The report  showed that pirate and armed robbery activity continued to decrease in the Gulf of Guinea, an area which had become a relative hotbed for this crime in recent history. Just five incidents were reported in Q1 2023 compared to eight in 2022 and 16 in 2021.

Despite the improvements, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre has called for coastal response agencies and international navies to maintain efforts in the region.

On March 25, a product tanker was hijacked 140nm WSW of Pointe Noire, The Congo. The vessel effectively lost all communications for about five days and when located by a French naval asset, six crew were reported as kidnapped.

“This highlights the continued need for vigilance and swift naval responses when incidents are reported,” the IMB stated.

“We emphasize the need for continued, robust and coordinated regional and international naval presence to act as a deterrent to prevent and respond to piracy—especially considering nearly 85% of international trade is transported via the sea and it is the seafarers who need to be safeguarded,” IMB Director Michael Howlett said.

Singapore Straits

Almost 30% of Q1 2023 incidents occurred in the Singapore Straits, with eight recorded cases—a decrease from the 15 incidents reported in Q1 2022. While incidents in the region tend to be cases of petty theft, the threat of violence remains a worrisome possibility, with knives sighted and reported in two of the incidents.

South America

About 33% of global incidents occurred in South America according to the report, with Callao anchorage, Peru remaining an area of particular concern. Five reported incidents occurred there in Q1 2023, a number which has remained steady in recent years. Crew however continue to be at risk with two crew taken hostage and one each assaulted and threatened.

The full 2023 Jan-Mar piracy and armed robbery report can be downloaded for free from the ICC-CCS website: