The world’s three biggest flag States reported last month that pirates took 1,090 sailors hostage last year. Panama, Liberia and the Marshall Islands said that 4,185 seafarers were attacked with firearms and rocket propelled grenades, 342 survived attacks in vessels’ “security rooms”, and 516 were used as human shields.
The three countries, used by owners from Greece, China and elsewhere to register vessel ownership, were speaking about a joint declaration committing to provide data on attacks for the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) to collate.
Getting reliable statistics regarding piracy attacks is notoriously difficult. There are too few reports, and then even when they are received the actual contents can be “doctored” to varying degrees. Throw in various elements of self-interest and spin doctoring, and it can be seen that sometimes the numbers do not speak for themselves.
The news that flags, owners and a trusted and respected third party, such as the IMB are coming together is great news. “What gets measured gets done”, as they say and hopefully by doing the sums properly we can hopefully manage risk effectively, while also putting in place effective and appropriate safeguards.
The guesswork, the posturing , the blind ignorance and the showy media flashes have to stop, and we have to produce numbers which truly add up. The navies of the world will not stick around based on scanty information, the time for definitive figures is here!
Let’s hope this doesn’t fire up the old definitions argument though. Just one of the problems with piracy is that is has two definitions, there is the IMB one and the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea. If we are going to start counting properly, this could turn into an issue.