Executive Summary


Notable Trends in 2016

Increases in Kidnap For Ransom

Incidents of kidnap for ransom rose in West Africa and in Asia (in the Sulu and Celebes Seas specifically) from 2015 to 2016.


West Africa Kidnap for Ransom
Asia Kidnap for Ransom


The Economic Cost of Somali Piracy (2010-2016)

The Economic Cost of Somali Piracy

Sustaining the Effort of Deterring Somali Piracy

While spending towards at sea counter-piracy efforts has declined in recent years, very little funding has shifted towards building regional maritime security capacity.

Is it time to identify a maritime security deterrence threshold?

If international maritime security efforts are further reduced before more robust regional mechanisms are in place, it may create opportunities for piracy and other maritime crimes to continue unabated.

Deterrence Somali Piracy


East Africa Key Findings

Economic Cost

Economic Cost East Africa

  • The total cost of counter-piracy operations in the Western Indian Ocean has steadied out at around $1.5 billion.
  • As coalition forces have ended or decreased their commitments, independent deployments from various countries such as China, India and Japan now account for the majority of days on station with relation to naval counter-piracy operations.
  • In an attempt to lower costs, ship operators are increasingly shifting towards privately contracted armed security teams comprising three rather than four members (almost 70% in Q4 2016).

Human Cost

Human Cost East Africa

  • Oceans Beyond Piracy welcomes the efforts of the Hostage Support Partnership (HSP) in releasing the Naham 3 crewmembers, who were held for over 4 ½ years and released on 22 October 2016.
  • Eight crewmembers taken from the Iranian dhow Siraj in 2015 have yet to be released.
  • Piracy and armed robbery in the Western Indian Ocean region affected a total of 545 seafarers in 2016.

Pirate Activity

Piracy Activity East Africa

  • In 2016, no hijackings were recorded, but several suspicious incidents indicate that the capability and intent of pirate groups remain. The opportunity to commit acts of piracy continues to increase as vigilance by the shipping community decreases. This trend has been underlined by recent events and attacks in early 2017.
  • Pirate gangs and kingpins have been involved in a diverse array of illicit maritime activities that have helped to fund piracy activities in 2017.
  • The socio-political environment in Somalia(including lack of economic opportunity, lack of governance and lack of law enforcement capability) that initially allowed piracy to flourish remains largely unchanged, particularly in the traditional pirate safe havens.



West Africa Key Findings

Economic Cost

West Africa Economic Cost Piracy

  • Deterring piracy in West Africa remains a significant and persistent cost to both regional and international stakeholders.
  • Contracted maritime security is the single largest contributor to the cost of deterring piracy in West Africa at an estimated 44% of the total cost, though detailed figures are difficult to calculate.
  • The international community continues to support regional efforts to combat piracy and armed robbery at sea, spending in excess of $5 million on related capacity building programs and organizations involved in the improvement of maritime security.

Human Cost

human cost piracy west africa

  • 2016 saw a 57% rise in the number of seafarers affected by piracy in West Africa.
  • Kidnap for ransom attacks increased by more than one-third from 2015 to 2016, while the average duration of captivity remained consistent with past years.
  • The lack of prosecutions related to incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea continues to undermine efforts to combat piracy.

Pirate Activity

Pirate Activity West Africa

  • The number of incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea that OBP recorded in West Africa increased from 54 in 2015 to 95 in 2016. 
  • As in 2015, there was only one incident of hijacking for cargo theft which reflects a shift towards the kidnap for ransom model which requires less organization and is less risky for pirates.
  • Violent attacks were more concentrated in Nigerian waters than in previous years, highlighting that piracy and armed robbery at sea in West Africa is strongly influenced by the domestic security situation in Nigeria.



Asia Key Findings

Economic Cost

Economic Cost of Piracy Asia

  • As with previous reports, OBP was precluded from estimating aggregate costs of piracy and armed robbery in Asia due to the complexity of shipping patterns and difficulty in isolating dedicated counter-piracy patrols of regional naval and law enforcement agencies.
  • The creation of response teams and coordinated patrols by littoral states has led to the enhanced ability of regional actors to conduct counter-piracy operations and has contributed to the decrease in piracy and armed robbery incidents in Asia, notably of hijackings for cargo theft.
  • As a result of attacks occurring in the Sulu and Celebes Seas, many merchant vessels have been rerouted to avoid this area.

Human Cost

Human Cost Piract Asia

  • OBP calculated that 2,283 seafarers were affected by piracy and armed robbery in Asia in 2016, down from 3,674 in 2015.
  • Kidnap for ransom represented the most violent model in 2016, with 67 seafarers taken hostage in the Sulu and Celebes Seas, of which two were killed while in captivity.
  • Compared to 2015, the percentage of incidents involving crew member injuries decreased from 23 to 12 injuries. However, 2016 saw an increase in seafarer deaths; 6 seafarers were killed during or as a result of incidents.

Pirate Activity

pirate activities Asia

  • 2016 saw a substantial increase in the number of kidnappings that occurred in the Sulu and Celebes Seas, prompting the establishment of coordinated maritime patrols by littoral states.
  • The number of overall incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea recorded by OBP in 2016 decreased by 35% compared to 2015, highlighting the importance effectiveness of regional cooperation and information sharing mechanisms.
  • The number of hijackings for cargo theft incidents recorded by OBP decreased from 12 in 2015 to just three in 2015.


Full Reports

Read full East Africa Report

Read full West Africa Report

Read full Asia Report


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