THE number of incidents involving piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia doubled in the first five months of 2020, compare to the same period last year, according to the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP).
From January to May 2020, there were 49 such incidents, compared with 25 between January and May 2019. ReCAAP said the 2020 figure is the highest compared to the same period between 2016 and 2019.
Among these cases, 34 were in South-east Asia, compared with 18 during the same period in 2019.
There were 12 incidents in Indonesia, five in the Philippines and two in Vietnam. The most concerning to ReCAAP however, is the 15 incidents in the Singapore Strait, compared with seven during the same period in 2019.
"Due to the continued occurrence of incidents in the Singapore Strait, the ReCAAP ISC strongly urges the littoral States to increase patrols and enforcement in their respective waters, strengthen coordination among them and promote information sharing on incidents and criminal groups involved in order to make more arrests," ReCAAP said in its May 2020 report.
ReCAAP noted that while there was no report of abduction of crew from ships transiting in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah in May, the risk of abduction is still high, following an incident in January. While Malaysian authorities recovered three of the eight crew members, the remaining five are still held in captivity. It is thus urging ship masters and crew to exercise extra vigilance while transiting the area.
ReCAAP is the first regional government-to-government agreement to promote and enhance cooperation against piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia. Among its contracting parties, eight are Asean countries.