Piracy drops in Asia as kidnappings surge in Gulf of Guinea

Piracy rate has fallen in Southeastern Asia, since there have been only 13 cases of maritime crime in the first quarter of 2016, according to the latest analysis from UK’s maritime intelligence and operations company Dryad Maritime. Yet for the Gulf of Guinea this is not the case.

Known as a major piracy hotspot, Southeastern Asia saw a 50% drop in maritime crime compared to the same period in 2015, which are the lowest figures recorded by Dryad in 10 years. Similarly, the company says that the end of the first quarter of 2016 is the longest period without attacks on MVs underway or at anchor within the Singapore Strait since the first quarter of 2013. Somali piracy continues to be broadly contained with no confirmed attacks on large merchant vessels since January 2014.

However, the Gulf of Guinea saw a surge of industrial sabotage ashore, and offshore, the activity of pirate action groups operating with impunity in the face of overstretched Nigerian naval patrols has surged, Dryad says. 14 commercial vessels were attacked off Rivers and Bayelsa States and in 6 of these incidents, 23 crew members were kidnapped for ransom.

“The first three months of 2016 have visibly demonstrated the dynamic nature of maritime crime and how effective action to combat it can turn the tide in favour of the good guys. There are some welcome causes for optimism in certain regions, notably the Indian Ocean where Somali piracy remains broadly contained, and in Southeast Asia where we have seen a remarkable turnaround in a little over six months to deliver our lowest first quarter figures in a decade. In other areas, such as the Gulf of Guinea, the picture is a less positive one, with kidnap of crew for ransom rampant off the Niger Delta,” Ian Millen, Chief Operating Officer, Dryad Maritime comments.

“We are by no means complacent, as conditions can change quickly and we need to avoid complacency and monitor the situation carefully, but we are in a period of de-escalation and a return to industrial levels of Somali piracy is unlikely,” Millen adds.

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