It’s a Pirate’s Life for Indonesia, as Piracy Attacks Spike

The Oscar-nominated film Captain Philips brought the threat of Somali piracy to the big screen last year. But if it were highlighting the current reality, it would have been better set in Indonesia.

The sprawling archipelago has become the world’s top spot for pirate attacks, according to “Safety and Shipping Review 2014,” a report by a unit of global insurer Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty that looked at key developments in maritime safety.

The number of attempted and actual acts of piracy in Indonesia has jumped seven-fold over the past five years, bucking a global downward trend in the number of sea piracy attacks.

In 2013 the number of recorded attacks reached 264, a 40% drop from the time Somali piracy peaked in 2011, the AGCS report said, citing data from the International Maritime Bureau.

The picture is altogether different, however, in Indonesia, which accounted for 106 of those 264 attacks, a significant increase from the 15 incidents reported there in 2009.

Unlike the well-armed and organized pirates depicted in the film Captain Phillips, most of the attacks in Indonesia were “local, low level opportunistic thefts carried out by small bands of individuals,” the AGCS report said.

Pirates in Indonesia “just want the cash aboard the vessel or to rob the crew of any valuables,” it continued.

But the threat should not be dismissed, and needs to be controlled.

Because one-third of the attacks in Indonesia were reported in the last quarter of last year, “there is potential for such attacks to escalate into a more organized piracy model,” said the report.

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