The State of Maritime Piracy 2019 marks the tenth year that One Earth Future Foundation has assessed the human cost of maritime piracy. Over the last ten years our focus has expanded from piracy off the coast of Somalia to piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, Southeast Asia, and finally Latin America and the Caribbean. What has remained constant is our goal to explain and quantify the magnitude of these crimes and the profound impact piracy and armed robbery of ships have had on stakeholders and, most importantly, its victims, and our belief that ending violence at sea is possible.
In 2019, the Gulf of Guinea remained the area worst affected by piracy and maritime robbery of vessels worldwide. Although the number of incidents decreased from 2018, a 60 percent increase in the number of crew members kidnapped was reported in 2019, with a total of 164.
The Yemeni-flagged fishing dhow Al Azham was hijacked to be used as a mothership in an attack on fishing vessels off the coast of Somalia in April 2019. EUNAVFOR intercepted the hijacked dhow, arrested the pirates, and released the 23 hostages onboard. The hijacking underlined that the threat of piracy off Somalia is not eradicated, only suppressed.
The number of incidents in Latin America and the Caribbean remained the same in 2019 as in 2018. Violent kidnapping and armed robbery incidents against fishing vessels, yachts, and a cargo vessel were reported in Guyana, Trinidad, and Panama, and included the murders of four fishermen and one captain of a motor yacht. Several crew members were also seriously injured, and female crew were sexually assaulted.
Kidnapping of crew on fishing vessels by Abu Sayaff and associated groups continued in the Sulu Sea, as did kidnappings off the Bangladeshi portion of the Sundarbans by criminal gangs. Robbery and attempted robbery of commercial vessels, but especially of tugs towing barges, increased in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore in 2019, with 34 reported incidents.
State of Maritime Piracy 2019 - Report Launch Webinar
On the tenth anniversary of the first State of Maritime Piracy report, Stable Seas and the UNODC's Global Maritime Crime Programme host a discussion on the current status of piracy and armed robbery globally, lessons we've learned from the last 10 years of counter-piracy efforts, and the most pressing maritime security priorities for the next 10 years.