On the occasion of the presentation of its annual report to the 12th Nautical Forum, the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) confirmed a 32% increase of piracy and armed robbery in actual incidents in Asian waters in 2020, compared to 2019.
The increase of incidents was not limited to a particular location, but it was spread across areas such as Bangladesh, India, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore Strait and South China Sea. The highest number of incidents was in the Singapore Strait with 34 attacks. Of the 97 incidents, 93 were armed robbery against ships, while 4 were piracy.
Despite this surge, the severity level of incidents (violence to crew, stolen items) remained moderate. There was one CAT1 (the most severe) incident, while 74% of incidents were CAT4 (perpetrators not armed and crew not harmed).
Masafumi Kuroki, Executive Director of ReCAAP ISC, partly attributed the increase in incidents in the region to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, citing economic hardship impacting on many coastal communities, and to the fatigue of crews stranded for long periods at sea amidst border controls. “I think there are multiple causes but it is possible that the negative impact of Covid-19 is one of the causes. The economic hardships caused to coastal communities by Covid-19 could lead to more people resorting to sea robberies,” he said. Moreover, Director Kuroki added that “it is also possible that prolonged work of crew onboard ships due to the difficulty of crew change causes fatigue to the crew and may reduce their vigilance”.
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ReCAAP’s annual report 2020 here