Analysis

Global maritime security incidents continue to decline

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Global maritime security incidents continue to decline, despite surges in piracy off the Horn of Africa


Control Risks has recorded a 15% decrease in global maritime security incidents in the first half of the year, compared with the same period in 2016. This has been driven by a significant decline in maritime piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, which in 2016 experienced the highest levels of piracy and armed robbery ever recorded in the region. There was also a notable decline in kidnap incidents from vessels in South-east Asia compared to the latter half of 2016, partly due to the successful efforts of the Philippines military against the militant Abu Sayyaf Group on land, reducing their capability to kidnap victims at sea.

The global decrease in maritime security incidents has occurred despite the notable spike in Somali pirate groups targeting ships operating in the Horn of Africa region, and the ongoing conflict in Yemen contributing to a growing trend of incidents in the Southern Red Sea and Bab-el Mandeb strait, where vessels have been targeted in violent terrorist attacks.

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Key takeaways: 
  • 15% decrease in global maritime security  incidents

  • 22% of piracy incidents took place in the Gulf of Guinea

  • 38% of incidents involved cargo and tanker vessels

  • 20% decrease in global kidnap incidents from vessels

  • Spike in incidents off the Horn of Africa in 2017

  • 33% decrease in maritime security incidents in South-east Asia


    Cormac Mc Garry, Maritime Risk Analyst at Control Risks comments that, “the Gulf of Guinea has seen a substantial decrease in piracy this year as Nigerian pirates groups, who typically dominate regional statistics, have not shown the same intent to venture far offshore or beyond Nigerian waters like they did in 2016. However, there is no sustained trend yet pointing to a substantial reduction in piracy in the Gulf of Guinea compared to the years before 2016, and we expect increased activity from mid-July as the seas become calmer.

    It is promising to see a continued decline in global maritime security incidents, which have been decreasing over the past three years. However, this trend should not allow for complacency. We are recording global levels similar to 2013 which also followed a three year downward trend, largely due to the decline of Somali piracy. But that global trend did not last. Often, as one region sees less activity it picks up in another.”

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