The threat of piracy is a significant problem worldwide and a major concern for shipowners over recent years. According to the International Maritime Bureau, reported incidents of pirate attacks and armed robberies against ships have fallen and are now at the lowest level since 2008. International naval activity, improved onboard security, continuous updating and alertness are some of the reasons which contribute to the reduction of piracy incidents in Somalia, Gulf of Aden and wider Indian Ocean.
Nevertheless, a disquieting increase in attacks against small coastal tankers in Southeast Asia has drawn the attention of the shipping community. Small tankers linked to the oil industry, carrying products such as gasoil and marine diesel oil are hijacked for a short time by pirates who focus on unloading all or part of the cargo with the intention of selling it locally. Indonesia, South China Sea and Pulau Bintan are also areas where piracy is thriving, a fact witnessed by the armed robberies and hijackings that have taken place in those areas, especially against vessels at anchor or alongside a port.
In addition, a concern remains in West Africa where mainly cargo thefts and violent robberies are recorded instead of piracy attacks or hostage situations. Nigeria is a key area since pirates kidnap or hijack sailors on a frequent basis, while usually targeting tanker ships in order to steal and sell the cargo in the black market. Maritime crime appears to be not as devastating in the region of Bangladesh, where attacks are mostly minor thefts. In conclusion, despite the evident reduction in the number of piracy incidents, a risk still remains and shipowners should be cautious when trading in these areas as well as to comply with the directions and suggestions of Authorities and worldwide maritime and security organizations.