SINGAPORE - The number of sea piracy and armed robbery cases in Asia for the first three months of 2018 has dropped by nearly half from the same period last year.
A total of 14 cases were reported from January to March this year, down from 27 in the first quarter of last year.
This was due to fewer incidents at ports and anchorages in Bangladesh and the Philippines as a result of increased vigilance, said the Information Sharing Centre of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia.
In a media statement on Friday (April 13), the centre said incidents this year have been generally less severe than those in previous years, with the crew not being harmed physically. Incidents involving hijacking and assault, including the siphoning of cargo oil, are considered more severe.
The 14 cases include actual and attempted incidents. One was an incident of piracy in the high seas and the rest were armed robberies against ships in coastal waters and anchorages.
In two incidents in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore in January, "perpetrators were not successful in their attempt to board the ships due to the crew's vigilance", said the centre.
For eight affected vessels, losses came in the form of stores and unsecured items such as mooring rope, paint, welding machine, breathing apparatus, extension wire and lubricating oil. In four of these incidents, the stolen items were recovered and returned to the ship.
Established in 2006 and comprising 20 countries, the agreement and centre based in Singapore promote and enhance cooperation in combating piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia.
The centre said it advises ships transiting areas of concern to "exercise enhanced vigilance, maintain look-out for suspicious approach by boats, report all incidents to the nearest coastal state and flag state immediately, keep abreast of the latest situation and implement preventive measures".