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  • Writer's pictureShaun Robertson

Assessment of the IMB Half-Year Figures 2023

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) released its half-year figures for 2023 in July. Whilst being a little late to the party, this article will analyse the figures in the report and what this could potentially mean for piracy and robbery at sea figures leading on to the end of the year.

There were 65 incidents from January-June this year compared to 58 in 2022. These can be broken down by region as follows:

South-East Asia - 33

Africa - 14

Americas - 13

Indian Sub-Continent - 3

East Asia - 2

Callao is the most prolific centre for port robberies, with eight recorded incidents from January-June this year. Manila, Takoradi and Douala were also recorded as having over three recorded port incidents, with Manila having five and Takoradi and Douala both having three.

We can assess that by the end of the year, 2023 will likely beat 2022 in overall incidents. Since 2019, higher mid-year figures have always led to higher end-of-year figures indicating consistent numbers with no seasonal decrease in the latter months to reduce numbers by the end of the year. For example, 2022 saw 58 incidents from January-June and finished the year with 115 incidents, compared to 2021, which saw 68 incidents from January-June and finished with 132 incidents by the end of December. This trend continuing would break the decreasing rates of piracy which has been occurring for the past few years. Moreover, the lowest piracy rates in over thirty years may be at risk of disappearing.

Kidnapping and hostage-taking have also made a disturbing return to the Gulf of Guinea, although not in the same numbers as in the late 2010s. As such, the International Chamber of Shipping has voiced concern as 14 people were kidnapped, with 31 crew being taken hostage in the first six months of this year.

The International Maritime Bureau has called "on Gulf of Guinea regional authorities and the international community to refocus their attention on the region, to establish long-term, sustainable solutions that effectively address these crimes and protect the seafaring and fishing communities."

Whilst there was only one more incident in Africa this year compared to January-June of 2022, the return of violent piracy attacks does not give a good indication for the near future of maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.

The Singapore Straits also remain the epicentre of piracy and robbery at sea incidents, with a 25% increase in incidents compared with the same period last year. Incidents in this region have defied the global decrease of events over the past few years and this regional increase will likely continue towards the end of the year.

Overall, the outlook for the figures towards the year's end is not good. Stakeholders worldwide should increase efforts to improve maritime security to prevent further backsliding, which could worsen the intensity and frequency of piracy incidents.

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