UK-based maritime intelligence firm Dryad Maritime said in a report that maritime crime has declined by 13% year-on-year across the Horn of Africa, Gulf of Guinea and South-East Asia in the first quarter of this year.

The report also stated that notable incidents, such as the kidnap and ransom of seafarers off the Niger Delta, still remain a concern for the shipping industry.

Dryad Maritime director of intelligence Ian Millen said this analysis gives cause for concern and serves as a reminder to all seafarers to remain vigilant and employ appropriate risk reduction measures in all high-risk areas.

"Maritime criminals, from those off Nigeria to Somali pirates and those that operate in the archipelago of South-East Asia, remain very much in business and are capable of inflicting misery on seafarers," Millen said.

"The first line of defence is to be aware of their presence and take measures to ensure that their criminal activities are countered."

"Maritime criminals…remain very much in business and are capable of inflicting misery on seafarers."

In the Horn of Africa, the number of incidents rose to 15 from nine a year ago, but Dryad analysts attribute part of this data to misreporting and misinterpretation of events, such as the misidentification of regional fishermen in the Southern Red Sea and off the coast of Oman.

"Somali pirates have not been totally eradicated. Armed attacks against MT Nave Atropos, south of Salalah in January and the Kenyan vessel, MV Andrea, close to the Somali coast in February, have proved that broad containment of the threat does not mean it has been removed," Millen added.

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"On both occasions, the Somali attackers were only repelled by embarked armed security teams on the vessels concerned."

Dryad’s analysis shows that maritime crimes in South-East Asia dropped to 31 from 41 in the previous year, but its analysts noted that the incidents could possibly indicate a new modus operandi, with criminals demonstrating a trend towards robbery from vessels underway in the Singapore Strait rather than at boarding those anchored.

"The Singapore Strait has attracted attention with a number of vessels boarded for robbery in the first quarter of the year; a spate of attacks that has coincided with a reduction of incidents in the anchorages off Pulau Nipah, possibly signalling a change of modus operandi for criminal gangs who may have shifted attention to boarding vessels that are underway."