Piracy, armed robbery and other violent criminal acts at sea

Piracy, armed robbery and other violent criminal acts at sea


BIMCO's position on "piracy, armed robbery and other violent criminal acts at sea " has been approved by the BIMCO Board of Directors.


The framework for the repression of piracy under international law is mainly set out in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which came into force in 1994. States have an obligation to cooperate in the repression of piracy to the fullest possible extent. All states have universal jurisdiction on the high seas to seize pirate ships, or a ship taken by piracy and under the control of pirates, and arrest the persons on board.

Armed robbery can occur within the internal waters and territorial sea of a coastal state and in such cases the primary responsibility for enforcement normally falls on the coastal state.
All states have a shared responsibility to ensure the global supply chain is protected on the high seas and in territorial waters. Effective implementation of UNCLOS in national regulation is thus key to reduce armed robbery, acts of piracy or other violent acts at sea.

BIMCO’s strategic aim is to see the minimisation and eventual eradication of piracy and armed robbery at sea. Only then will seafarers’ safety and freedom of navigation be assured, without the need for self-protection measures and additional insurance premiums.

BIMCO’s position

  • Lack of uniform implementation and effective enforcement by coastal states of their responsibilities according to UNCLOS undermines the effect of various initiatives aimed at combatting piracy and armed robbery at sea. In high risk regions, coastal states are encouraged to strengthen international cooperation to maximise counter-piracy impact, e.g. by means of international naval forces working in parallel with regional navies.
  • The vital relationship and strong cooperation between navies, maritime law enforcement agencies and the shipping industry should be maintained in order to deter and defeat piracy globally.
  • BIMCO actively promotes a comprehensive approach to combating piracy in Gulf of Guinea including the assistance of international navies.
  • A Global Counter Piracy for Companies, Masters and Seafarers has established a uniform methodology for the protection of ships from piracy. The commonalities of most counter piracy efforts in all regions, whatever the methods of attack should be addressed in a single document. Any regional guidance should not stand alone, but should be developed as an appendix to the overall global guidance.
  • BIMCO supports the use of private maritime security companies (PMSCs) when required. PMSCs should be ISO28007 certified and operate legitimately, as a supplement to other self-defence measures and the efforts by the naval forces.
  • BIMCO supports the idea of a single set of standard definitions for security incident classification and reporting.
  • According to UNCLOS, counter piracy is a government’s responsibility. Requests to the shipping industry to make financial contributions to governments for counter-piracy initiatives are not supported.
  • Paying ransom for release of crew and ship is the right of owners and their responsibility to protect seafarers should not be hindered.


Rasmus Nord Jorgensen
in Copenhagen, DK

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