Piracy and Organized Crime at sea

What We Know About Piracy

Release Date: May 1, 2020
Author(s): Topic:
Publication Type: Report


The report, What We Know About Piracy is the first in a series of reports on Transnational Organised Crime at Sea. The project is a collaboration between the SafeSeas Network, based at the Universities of Bristol (UK) and Copenhagen (Denmark) and the One Earth Future Foundation’s Stable Seas program.

The research project Transnational Organised Crime at Sea: New Evidence for Better Responses, is funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security Research (PaCCS) and the One Earth Future Foundation.

This paper provides the first systematic overview of how data on piracy and armed robbery is collected, what information on piracy is available, and which organizations are analyzing these data.

The paper endeavors to address how different organizations define, categorize, quantify, and analyze piracy. What common themes and issues can we identify? Who collects data and how? How accessible is the data? Where do we lack data? What are the blind spots?

Key Findings

  • Even in 2020 piracy still continues to threaten the shipping industry. Several actors collect data on piracy and armed robbery against ships, from the IMB, IMO, and ReCAAP to regional institutions and private security companies. This data can assist international and regional institutions, as well as countries to create domain awareness and to identify patterns and  pirate networks to assist law enforcement efforts and other international interventions.
  • However several shortcomings in data collection, definitions, classifications and interpretation lead to different conclusions on trends.
  • The question arises of how data collection can be improved and harmonized.

Inputs Provided

Input and comments on earlier drafts were provided by Dr Curits Bell (Stable Seas), Professor Tim Edmunds (SafeSeas/University of Bristol), Dr Scott Edwards (SafeSeas/University of Bristol), and Professor Christian Bueger (SafeSeas/University of Copenhagen).