LOOKING back on 2014, it appears to be the most dangerous year for Asian seafarers in almost a decade, writes Miha Hribernik, a UK-based political risk analyst.
Citing data from the Singapore-based Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP), is clear that in terms of incidents the situation is getting worse, he says,
There were, 183 actual or attempted attacks took place in southeast Asian waters during 2014, he writes in Tokyo's Diplomat Magazine. This figure represents a marked increase from 150 in 2013 and 133 in 2012, and is the highest since 2006.
The latest figures released by the International Maritime Bureau's (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre corroborate ReCAAP's findings and show a similar increase in attacks in 2013 and 2014.
Since a total of 245 attacks took place worldwide in 2014, Asia now accounts for up to 75 per cent of all piracy and armed robbery (PAR) incidents in the world, up from 60 per cent in 2013.
Shipowners are reluctant to report attacks because it hurts company's safety record, raises liability risks, and insurance costs, Thus many attacks go unreported.
Asia's share in incidents is rapidly increasing as the number of attacks in other parts of the world - most notably the Gulf of Aden - continues to decline.
The surge in incidents in Southeast Asia underscores a worrying trend, one that has seen attacks steadily proliferate since 2013, following a brief decline between 2010 and 2012.
Even though incidents are not new in the region, southeast Asia has been known as a piracy hotspot for centuries and the increase in attacks will perhaps nudge countries in the most affected areas to action.
The shipping industry is likely to exert additional pressure on regional governments, as a sustained increase in attacks will put ships and crew at greater risk and is certain to drive up the cost of insurance.