Piracy concerns have two-fold increased across Asia in the first half of 2020, the highest level in five years and nearly double the number recorded in the same period a year earlier.
A total of 51 incidents were recorded in the region between January-June, while it was 25 in the same period in 2019. Out of the 51 incidents, 50 of which were actual and one was an attempt, according to the half-yearly report shared by Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP ISC). ReCAAP ISC, is a piracy information group with 20 member nations, mostly in Asia.
The reports show that the incidents mostly occurred Singapore Strait and the South China Sea, as well as waters off countries including Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
The Singapore Strait, one of the world’s busiest commercial shipping routes, has seen 16 incidents since between January and June, compared to 8 in the same period the previous year.
However, there was an improvement at the ports/anchorages in China with no incident reported during the said time, compared to three incidents in the same period in 2019. There were also arrests of perpetrators at Chittagong Anchorage in Bangladesh, off Gujarat and Alang in India, off PulauBatam, Indonesia and in the Singapore Strait.
Incidents are classified as piracy if they happen outside the jurisdiction of any state. Everything else is considered armed robbery.
ReCAAP’s executive director Masafumi Kuroki said the spike in cases was worrying. “‘Small’ crimes, if not addressed, can embolden criminals to commit more serious acts,” he said.
ReCAAP ISC restated the need for law enforcement agencies to heighten surveillance, increase patrols and respond promptly to incidents reported by ships to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators. It further advised the Shipmasters and crew to exercise vigilance, report all incidents immediately to the nearest coastal State, and implement preventive measures recommended in the ‘Regional Guide to Counter Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia’.