Overall pirate attacks are down when compared to last year
But Nigeria's Gulf of Guinea "attacks are increasing in frequency with no signs of stopping"
High risk waters off Nigeria, India and Indonesia accounted for two thirds of all reported pirate incidents
Crime on the high seas has nearly halved in the last five years but there is one region bucking that trend.
Pirate attacks off Nigeria are seeing a resurgence, at a rate of nearly one a week in the past three months, new numbers show.
A report released Wednesday from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), a non-profit devoted to fighting maritime crime, said “these attacks are increasing in frequency with no signs of stopping.”
“Reports in the last quarter indicate unacceptable violence against ships and crews in the Gulf of Guinea, particularly around Nigeria. The current increase in kidnappings is a cause for great concern,” said IMB director Pottengal Mukundan.
Usually the attacks are hijackings or kidnapping of crew members for ransom, or are robberies to steal gas or oil.
In the first three months of this year, Nigeria has seen 10 incidents compared to 6 and 7 attacks in the corresponding periods of 2014 and 2015.
Besides presenting a huge physical danger to crews, piracy can be incredibly costly to an economy.
The number of reported attacks Nigeria has seen this year is on track to meet 2012 numbers, a year that a Chatham House report estimated it would cost the Nigerian government $1 billion a month in lost revenues – a result of the estimated 400,000 barrels of oil stolen each day.
High risk waters
Globally, IMB received 37 reports of actual and attempted pirate attacks from January to March. That’s down compared to the 54 reports received for the first three months last year, though the center noted there could be a time lag in reporting so more incidents could come to light.
Overall, there were 246 attacks last year, down sharply from the 439 attacks recorded in 2011.
Three regions made up for two thirds of the total 37 reported incidents: Nigeria (10), India (10), and Indonesia (4).
The IMB stated however that the incidents in India tend to be low-level thefts mostly targeting anchored vessels.
Somali threat on hold
Somalia and its nearby Gulf of Aden, which has been a problem spot for years, reported no new incidents.
IMB said it was due to the combined effort of multiple navies in the region, security measures introduced on vessels and a more stable Somalian government. Still, the center warned about letting that progress slip.
“A single successful hijacking of a merchant vessel, will rekindle the Somali pirates’ passion to resume its piracy efforts,” the report said.
Suspected Somali pirates continue to hold 29 crew members for ransom, IMB said. The fishing vessel Naham 3 had its 26 Asian crew members taken hostage and held for more than four years. Negotiators are still working to secure their release.