A new report from the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has revealed that the incidents of piracy are on the rise in the Gulf of Guinea, which accounts for 29 of the 66 incidents recorded during the first quarter of the year.

The increase in armed attacks against ships sailing around West Africa has accelerated the levels of piracy and armed robbery at sea across the globe.

According to IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre, the total number of 66 incidents recorded in the first quarter of this year is an increase from the 43 and 37 incidents reported in the same period in 2017 and 2016, respectively.

During the first three months of this year, 100 crew were taken hostage and 14 kidnapped from their vessels across the globe.

Altogether 39 vessels were boarded, 11 fired upon and four vessels hijacked, with a further 12 reports of attempted attacks recorded by IMB in the first quarter of the year.

The number of attacks recorded in the Gulf of Guinea represents more than 40% of the global total. Out of the 114 seafarers captured worldwide, all but one reportedly happened in this region.

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“The prompt detection and response to any unauthorised movements of an anchored vessel could help in the effective response to such attacks.”

The region reported no incidents of hijackings last year, but recorded all the hijackings of four vessels so far this year.

An IMB spokesperson said: “The hijacking of product tankers from anchorages in the Gulf of Guinea is a cause of concern.

“In these cases, the intent of the perpetrators is to steal the oil cargo and kidnap crew.

“The prompt detection and response to any unauthorised movements of an anchored vessel could help in the effective response to such attacks.”

The IMB report also revealed that a total of 22 incidents were recorded in Nigeria in the first quarter. Of the 11 vessels fired upon across the globe, eight were near Nigeria.

One incident was reported near Somalia and nine low-level attacks against anchored vessels were reported in Indonesia.