The International Maritime Bureau’s Annual piracy report, released Jan. 10, reveals that despite the continued fall in piracy worldwide more crew were kidnapped at sea in 2016 than in any of the previous 10 years.
“The continued fall in piracy is good news but certain shipping routes remain dangerous and the escalation of crew kidnappings is a worrying trend in some emerging areas,” said Pottengal Mukundan, director of IMB, who’s Piracy Reporting Center has monitored world piracy since 1991.
While most attacks are against commercial vessels, the occupants of sailing vessels are not immune from attack.
The Royal Yachting Association — the national governing body for sailing, powerboating and personal watercraft in the United Kingdom — reminded the boating community in a recent release to remain vigilant and to avoid navigating through waters in which pirates are known to operate.
RYA cruising manager Stuart Carruthers said: “While defensive measures and the use of armed guards on commercial shipping have had a clear deterrent effect, pirate networks still retain both the intent and capability to conduct piracy. Sailing vessels which are slow and low remain vulnerable from opportunistic attacks and hijackings.”
When sailors think of pirates they are apt to think of the Indian Ocean from the east coast of Africa to the Bay of Bengal, which for years has been the center of attacks against seagoing vessels.
However the kidnapping of individuals from merchant vessels and yachts occurs in many other parts of the world. For example the recent attacks and gruesome killing of several individuals aboard yachts has drawn special attention to the Sulu Sea between eastern Malaysia and the Philippines where the Abu Sayyaf militants continue to operate.
Up-to-date information about piracy around the world can be found at bit.ly/2kTfUPz.