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Asian waters see rise in sea robbery and piracy

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SINGAPORE : The Asian waters saw a 15% increase in piracy and sea robbery until April, in the first four months of this year, compared to the same period last year.

According to Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP), until 1 May this year some 38 incidents were reported while in the same period last year, 33 incidents were reported.

Of the total incidents, none were Category 1 in nature, while one was Category 2 incidents, eight were Category 3 incidents, and the rest 29 were Category 4 incidents.

Last year’s incidents include two Category 2, six Category 3, and 23 Category 4 incidents.

In all the cases, most incidents took place in Singapore Strait which is a major concern for the ships plying through the area.

Ship piracy this year may see a significant rise as more people in coastal states are facing severe financial crisis and inflationary pressure is pushing them towards crime, people working on this issue fears.

CG Admiral Artemio M. Abu, Commandant of the Philippine Coast Guard, and the Chairperson of ReCAAP ISC Governing Council at a recent programme, said, “Given the current inflationary pressures and uncertain economic outlook, many of the factors which drive individuals to commit piracy and sea robbery may return, and may lead to higher number of incidents this year.”

“The shipping industry must continue to adopt best practices such as timely and accurate incident reporting and close collaboration with maritime authorities, to keep our sea lanes safe and protect crew and cargo,” he emphasised.

Elfian Harun, Regional Manager (Southeast Asia) and Environment Manager, INTERTANKO at Piracy and Sea Robbery Conference 2023 in late April, commented, “Piracy and armed robbery are crimes that no seafarer should have to face. Fortunately, the armed robbery taking place in the Singapore Strait has, thus far, not resulted in injury to crew, but the situation remains a real concern due to its potential impact upon the safety of navigation.”

ReCAAP ISC and its partners have taken tremendous steps to eradicate these crimes and this coordinated response is an example the other regions should consider emulating, he noted.

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