Piracy remains a global threat, particularly in Asia, the Arabian Sea and West Africa's Gulf of Guinea, according to new report

386 counts of maritime crime in were recorded in 2015, according to maritime security company MAST. Figures for global maritime crime shown on the MAST risk map, show that 66 per cent of all pirate activity took place in Asia (255 incidents) compared with 16 per cent around the Horn of Africa and 17 per cent on the West African Coast.

Gerry Northwood, OBE, COO of MAST and former Royal Navy counter-piracy commander warns that conflicts and tensions pose real threat to maritime environment and global security standards are needed to suppress crime.

Conflicts and tensions in the Middle East, Far East and North and sub-Saharan Africa pose a real threat to the maritime environment and some of the world’s most important shipping lanes, the report warns.

Concern over the decision to reduce the High Risk Area (HRA) in the western Indian Ocean, conflicts in Yemen and Libya and tensions around the Spratly Islands should be viewed as serious threats to the shipping industry and global trade, it says. It also warns that the reduction of the HRA in the western Indian Ocean, despite the retained capability of Somali coastal communities to launch pirate attacks, combined with their collaboration with some in Yemen at the height of the attacks in 2008/09, makes the area a potentially dangerous route into Europe.

Asia was the most active region for maritime crime in 2015, according to MAST’s new risk map. Of the 255 incidents in Asia last year, 97 per cent involved a ship being boarded by unknown assailants with almost half (47 per cent) resulting in a robbery, and 10 cases leading to the ship being hijacked.

A total of 62 counts of maritime crime were counted in the Horn of Africa, with nine logged as pirate attacks. These numbers are a significantly low for the area which was traditionally a piracy hotspot and at its peak in 2008 cost the global economy around $6bn.

There were also piracy and crime statistics noted, with the death of German sailor in St Vincent and the Grenadines, and an attack on a couple aboard their yacht in the Seychelles.

Gerry Northwood OBE, COO of MAST and former Royal Navy counter-piracy commander, said:

‘It is clear is that the maritime environment is inextricably linked to global events and not immune to crime and terrorism in their many forms, and that countries overwhelmed by political instability and conflict pose a threat to the shipping routes that they border or have influence over. Individual vessels, owners and crews would be wise to have security at the forefront of their mind and be in a position to adapt or react if necessary, wherever they are.’