Capacity Building Must be a Focus as Sea Piracy Expands
Brandon Prins, 2020
ReCAAP published its half-yearly report in July warning of a dangerous increase in pirate attacks in Asia. The organization reported 51 total incidents from January through June. This represents an 82 percent increase in sea-pirate attacks from the first half of 2019. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) recorded a similar surge in piracy incidents. Attacks doubled in the first half of 2020 compared to 2019 (see Figure 1). The escalation in pirate activity is not confined only to Asia. Both West Africa and the Americas have witnessed increases in sea-piracy over the past two years as well. Globally, we’re on a path to see a 20 percent increase in piracy in 2020 compared to 2019.
To be sure, pirate attacks remain well below their most recent high in 2010. In that year, not only were Somali pirates responsible for more than 200 attacks and attempted attacks against ships in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Indian Ocean, but these same Somali raiders also hijacked at least 49 vessels. In 2019, the IMB reported only four ship hijackings, none of which occurred off the Somali coast. So far in 2020, the IMB reports only one hijacking; a fishing boat seized in the waters of the Ivory Coast. Despite successes with Somali pirates and an overall decrease in vessel hijackings, recent trends in commerce raiding warrant concern.