A report from Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP) has stated that declining vigilance by the shipping community and reductions in naval patrols could encourage pirates to increase their activities of attacking vessels, especially off the Horn of Africa. 

Called 'State of Maritime Piracy', the annual report has also revealed that counter-piracy cooperation has help alleviated effects of the recent spate of piracy.

In recent years, the Western Indian Ocean Region has seen reduced activity in terms of piracy. However, the pirate networks responsible for the original Somali piracy crisis are still involved in small-scale attacks and other maritime crimes. 

The report evaluated the human and economic impacts of maritime piracy and robbery at sea, the recent cases of attacks off the Horn of Africa may be an indication of the return of piracy.

State of Maritime Piracy lead author and Oceans Beyond Piracy project officer Maisie Pigeon said: “One of the reasons we are observing increased incidents of kidnap-for-ransom is that it offers financial gain with less risk to the perpetrators than hijacking for cargo theft.

"Most of these attacks were violent, putting seafarers at risk of being kidnapped or even killed."

“Unfortunately, these kinds of attacks appear to have continued into 2017.”

In addition, the new OBP report has revealed the total number of incidents off West Africa in 2016 almost doubled from 2015, affecting over 1,900 seafarers.

Another State of Maritime Piracy report author Dirk Siebelssaid: “In the study of West Africa, we found almost two-thirds of all reported incidents took place off the coast of Nigeria, yet the majority occurred in international waters.

“Most of these attacks were violent, putting seafarers at risk of being kidnapped or even killed.

“This demonstrates the importance of multi-stakeholder approaches to confronting the problem, especially joint work across coastal states.”

The State of Maritime Piracy report reveals that Asia has seen a 35% decrease in overall attacks because of the effectiveness of increased patrols and incident reporting.

However, the Sulu and Celebes Seas are witnessing an upward trend in kidnapping incidents, requiring the regional actors to remain on high alert.