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The number of reports of kidnapped seafarers is increasing, and last year had the highest figure for ten years. The ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reported this on its website. In total, 62 people were kidnapped in 15 different incidents, with demands for a ransom for their release. 151 seafarers were held hostage, including those kidnapped before 2016. Just over half of last year’s kidnappings took place off the coast of West Africa, while the others happened in the waters around Malaysia and Indonesia. One of the most dangerous areas is the Sulu Sea between Malaysia and the Philippines, and IMB calls on cargo owners and shipping companies to consider alternative routes outside these areas. At the same time, the number of pirate attacks on commercial shipping has fallen and last year saw the lowest level since 1998. There were only two attacks off Somalia, which used to be badly hit by pirate attacks. The number of attacks on ships off the coasts of Vietnam and Bangladesh has also fallen. In some areas, unfortunately, events have moved in the opposite direction. There were eleven pirate attacks off Peru in 2016, for example, although the year before there were no attacks at all. The number of attacks also continue to rise outside Nigeria. In total, 150 ships were illegally boarded last year around the world, twelve ships were fired at and seven were hijacked.

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