The International Maritime Bureau's (IMB) annual report has shown that a total of 191 sea piracy and armed robbery incidents were recorded in 2016.

The newly published report revealed that the year witnessed the lowest level of sea piracy since 1998.

However, it also showed that 2016 witnessed the highest number of crew kidnappings in the last ten years, highlighting a threefold increase in maritime kidnappings compared to 2015.

According to IMB, pirates kidnapped 62 people for ransom in 15 separate incidents, over half of which were captured off West Africa, while 28 were kidnapped from tugs, barges, fishing boats, and more recently merchant ships, around Malaysia and Indonesia.

International Maritime Bureau director Pottengal Mukundan said: "The continued fall in piracy is good news, but certain shipping routes remain dangerous, and the escalation of crew kidnapping is a worrying trend in some emerging areas.

"The continued fall in piracy is good news, but certain shipping routes remain dangerous."

"The kidnappings in the Sulu Sea between East Malaysia and the Philippines are a particular concern.”

As per the latest IMB data, 150 vessels were boarded, 12 vessels were fired upon, seven were hijacked, while 22 attacks were thwarted and 151 were held hostage by pirates during 2016.

Last year, a total of 34 crews were taken in nine separate incidents occurring in the Gulf of Guinea and 36 incidents of attacks were reported off Nigeria.

IMB also noted that Indonesian piracy incidents fell from 108 in 2015 to 49 in 2016.

Two incidents off Somalia and 11 incidents in Peru were recorded by IMB during the same period.

Image: Infographic of sea piracy in 2016. Photo: courtesy of ICC Commercial Crime Services.