Maritime Risks Rise Even As Somali Piracy Recedes

By Tom Patterson

LONDON For all of human history, the maritime environment has presented a complex and challenging operating environment. For most people, shipping remains an invisible industry despite its critical role in todays global economy. There was a brief spike in public interest a few years ago when Somali pirates provided a modern-day outlet for coverage about contemporary swashbuckling on the high seas. But pirate activity off the Horn of Africa has ebbed considerably, and with it most public concern.

Yet last year saw a 26% spike in maritime piracy and armed robbery, according to statistics compiled by Control Risks. This marked the highest level since 2011. Somali pirates accounted for a mere 4% of global activity, and attacks by Nigerian groups in the Gulf of Guineaanother piracy hotspot in recent yearsdeclined by 12%. Asia accounted for 30% of the global total.

In fact, the Americas saw more maritime crime than Africa in 2014predominantly port and anchorage crimes involving theft or robbery. But Western Hemisphere ports have other risks as well. Labor disputes caused disruptions at ports in Chile and Costa Rica last year, and inadequate infrastructure has turned many Latin American ports into bottlenecks with lengthy waiting times.

Asia was the region with the most attacks on vessels in 2014; criminal activity there reached the highest levels in a decade. Most incidents occurred within the territorial waters of Indonesia and Bangladesh. While this uptick seems lik....

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last yearmiddle eastshipping industrymaritime securitysouth china