August is International Pirate Month — mainly I guess, because it's fun to say "Arrrg-ust" like a Caribbean swashbuckler from the movies. But many outside the shipping and insurance industries do not realize that piracy is still an expensive danger in the 21
The global insurer Zurich estimates the annual cost of piracy for the global economy at $ 12 billion per year and, according to the International Maritime Bureau & # 39 ;s Piracy Reporting Center (IMB PRC), increased the number of global piracy and armed robberies by 20 percent in 2020. The IMB PRC's latest annual report lists 195 actual and attempted attacks in 2020, compared with 162 in 2019. This is due to the increase in increasing incidents in the Gulf of Guinea in Africa, as well as increased armed robbery activity in the Singapore Strait.
In its Safety and Shipping Review 2021, states the global insurer Allianz, the Gulf of Guinea accounted for over 95 percent of the crew members abducted worldwide in 2020.
"Last year, 130 crews were abducted in 22 separate incidents in the region – the highest ever – and the problem has continued in 2021, the report says. "Ships are directed further away from the shore — in some cases over 200 nautical miles from land."
The COVID-19 pandemic may have played a role in this increase in piracy, as it is linked to underlying social, political and economic problems.
The economic effects of the pandemic have been particularly devastating in parts of the world where piracy tends to be a problem: job losses, negative growth rates and rising poverty. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), China is the only major economy expected to have positive growth by 2020. The economies of most other countries have shrunk, some by more than 9 percent. Overall, the global economy shrank by at least 4 percent by 2020, and the World Bank estimates that another 150 million people have been driven into poverty.
The economic costs of the pandemic have been particularly challenging for pirate-sensitive countries, and pre-covid economic conditions in many of these sites almost certainly mean slower recovery.
"Pirates, criminals and terrorists use poverty and desperation to seek recruitment, gain support and find protection. To counter these threats, we need to raise awareness and educate people, especially young people, while providing alternative livelihoods and support to local businesses, says Ghada Waly, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Pandemic & # 39 ;s impact on crews
The crew's relief is crucial to ensure the safety and health of seafarers. Tired crew members make mistakes, and there are serious concerns for the next generation of seafarers. COVID-19 affects education, and the sector may struggle to attract new talent due to working conditions.
Reduced accessibility for well-trained crews may make ships more vulnerable as the global economy and international trade recover.
In March, the International Maritime Administration warned that lack of access to vaccinations for seafarers places shipping in a "legal minefield" and could cause supply chain disruptions from canceled sailings and port delays.
"Vaccinations may soon become a mandatory requirement for work at sea due to reports that some states insist that all crews be vaccinated as a condition of entering their ports," Allianz writes. "But more than half of the global workforce at sea currently comes from developing countries, which can take many years to vaccinate, and shipping companies' vaccination of seafarers can also give rise to liability and insurance issues, including mandatory vaccination and integrity issues. "
COVID-19 The confusing consequences for international piracy were illustrated last month, when more than 80 percent of a South Korean anti-piracy unit serving on a mission off the coast of Somalia were found to have tested positive and were allowed to fly out. The government has defended the decision with reference to lack of access ng on vaccine right then.
Insure marine companies and cargo  From the Triple-I blog:
COVID-19 and maritime risk