In 2014, global maritime piracy dropped to the lowest level in 8 years, according to the London-based International Maritime Bureau. That’s the good news; the bad news is that despite the overall decline, ship hijackings off Southeast Asia’s coasts are on the rise.
Last year, 21 ships were hijacked by pirates and 442 crew members taken hostage worldwide, according to the watchdog group’s annual report. That number is up from 2013, when 12 vessels were hijacked and 302 crew members held hostage.
There were a total of 245 pirate attacks in 2014, a 44 percent decline from the Somali piracy peak in 2011 and down from 264 in 2013. Of the total 2014 pirate attacks, only 11 occurred off the Somali coast, a former major piracy hotspot. However, 124 attacks occurred in Southeast Asia.
“The global increase in hijackings is due to a rise in attacks against coastal tankers in Southeast Asia,” IMB Director Pottengal Mukundan said in a statement. “Gangs of armed thieves have attacked small tankers in the region for their cargoes, many looking specifically for marine diesel and gas oil to steal and then sell.”
Most of the attacks were low-level thefts from vessels using guns and long knives, but over the course of the year, 4 crewmembers were killed, 13 injured and 9 kidnapped from their vessels.