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Concerns over abduction remain even as Asian piracy cases fall: ReCAAP

Piracy and sea robberies across Asia have declined, but concerns remain over abduction of crew for ransom in the Sulu-Celebes seas and the waters of Eastern Sabah, with 10 still in captivity, a regional security watchdog said.

“Despite a decrease in abduction incidents, threat remains and ships should reroute where possible,” the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia, or ReCAAP, said in its annual report released Monday.
There were a total of 76 piracy and armed robbery incidents in 2018, down 25% on year and the lowest since 2007, when ReCAAP started tracking these incidents.

In Asia, more than 90% of the incidents are armed robberies against ships, occur in territorial waters of the coastal states, and their vigilance is vital to control the attacks, ReCAAP’s Executive Director Masafumi Kuroki said while releasing the report.

It is a matter of concern that more than 10 such incidents took place last year in the ports and anchorages in Chittagong and Samarinda — major loading ports in Bangladesh and Indonesia, respectively.

There is also a slight increase in incidents reported from Malaysia and Vietnam, the report said.

Despite the decrease in the number of incidents in the Sulu-Celebes and Eastern Sabah regions, the abduction of crew for ransom remains a serious threat in the area, the report added.

From industrial raw materials such as coal to essential food items like rice, commodities worth billions of dollars move on commercial ships near the Sulu Sea and the Celebes Sea, industry estimates showed.

ReCAAP has detailed information on around 1,560 such incidents and is now using data analytics to identify patterns in them.

The analysis suggests that there was no evidence to prove if certain types of ships were targeted, but 63% of the attacks were on either tankers or bulk carriers.

As expected, most of the incidents occurred during the night.

A third of the incidents involved four to six perpetrators and a fourth had between one and three, according to the ReCAAP analysis.

Established in 2006, ReCAAP is the first regional government-to-government agreement to promote and enhance cooperation against piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia. It has 20 member countries, including all members of ASEAN except Malaysia and Indonesia, with France and Germany expected to join ReCAAP in the future.
Source: Platts

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