A Breakdown of the MICA Center 2022 Maritime Security Report
The Maritime Information Cooperation and Awareness Center (MICA) has released its global maritime security report. Issues such as piracy, illegal immigration, war and illegal fishing are covered. However, this article will break down the figures relating to piracy in regions covered by our weekly intelligence reports. 2022 saw an average decrease of 5% in maritime security incidents worldwide, with violent incidents also decreasing on average.
However, some areas have seen robberies increase, most notably in the Gulf of Guinea, South-East Asia and the Indian Ocean. As unreported cases can be as high as 50% for piracy-related incidents, it should be noted that these numbers are likely higher in each given area.
Gulf of Guinea
The Gulf of Guinea has seen a remarkable decline in incidents in addition to a reduction of the severity of these incidents. The report notes that the area is still considered the most dangerous in the world regarding maritime security due to the perceived typology of kidnap and ransom attacks. However, the report does not mention that criminality has been switching towards thefts and oil bunkering as we move into 2023. There has been a drop of 20 overall incidents from 52 to 32 from 2021 to 2022.
Violent attacks (both attempted and occurred) dropped from 29 to 8, but robbery incidents increased by one from 23 to 24. Only one kidnapping incident took place with two seafarers kidnapped, compared to 71 seafarers in 10 incidents in 2021.
The focus on robberies has occurred around ports and anchorages, with Angola seeing the most significant increase in this crime typology, rising from 5 incidents in 2021 to 11 incidents in 2022 centred around the port of Luanda.
The industry has seen a remarkable decline in the severity and number of incidents. This achievement, as the report points out, can be attributed to regional stakeholders, both public and private. For example, the Nigerian Maritime Safety and Administration Agency (NIMASA) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have been instrumental in improving regional maritime security.
South-East Asia is an area that does not fit the global trend of reduced piracy and maritime security-related incidents. Moreover, the report highlights the continued perceived threat of maritime terrorism in the region despite no recorded incidents and a low likelihood of an incident occurring. Incidents jumped from 86 to 90 from 2021 to 2022, with a slight increase in violent incidents compared to robberies.
To elaborate, there were six violent attacks in 2022 compared to zero in 2021, with robberies dropping by from 84 to 83. Within these 83 robberies, the Singapore Straits saw over 50 of these, increasing in number from 2021. The western part of the Strait has also seen an increase in thefts. Despite the increase, violent incidents are still far lower compared to 2019 and the years that preceded it.
Gulf of Mexico
Information on the Gulf of Mexico is less prevalent than other regions in the report. It is covered with the Americas and the Caribbean as a whole. In addition, attacks on oil rigs are not included in the report, which misses a significant part of the typology of piracy in the region. However, MICA reported that robberies in the Bay of Campeche doubled from four to eight in 2022.
The Indian Ocean has seen an increase in piracy incidents from 32 in 2021 to 45 in 2022. Whilst this seems poor at first glance, robberies have increased from 9 to 29 whilst violent attacks (attempted and occurred) have decreased from 23 to 16. Whilst MICA note that the conflict in Yemen and grey-zone warfare between powerful nations such as Iran are key security issues, the spread of incidents does not support this being the cause for the increase.
The robberies are mostly centred around the Indian subcontinent, the southeastern coast of Africa and the Suez Canal. The Gulf of Aden consists of mostly attempted attacks, with one successful attack off the coast of Yemen.
Therefore, the increase in robberies cannot be attributed to political instability and violent conflict mostly centred around areas such as the Gulf of Aden and the Strait of Hormuz.
Maritime security continues to positively impact worldwide, reducing the severity and occurrence of incidents. In the months ahead, the hope will be that this downward trend of incidents continues for another year. As always, vigilance should remain as the risk of slipping due to complaisance could see gains be reversed.