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What Is Maritime Piracy? 

January 10, 2024
Boat Accident

Acts of Piracy on the High Seas

Pirate attacks may seem like an act of fiction or fantasy, but they frequently occur on international waters. From hijacking to stealing, maritime privacy is a reality that seamen may face. Seamen who are injured in pirate attacks may have legal recourse. Maritime laws like the Jones Act may provide a path for compensation for individuals who suffer harm as a result of piracy. 

Understanding Maritime Piracy

According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982, piracy involves any unlawful act of violence, depredation, or detention on the high seas against a ship or aircraft. Maritime piracy is exceptionally dangerous for the captain, crew, and passengers of a vessel. Pirates can cause irreparable harm from stealing goods that are being shipped to causing serious injuries or even death.

Common Types of Maritime Piracy

While the days of swashbuckling pirates with peg legs may be behind us, modern-day pirates are just as dangerous. They are often heavily armed and adept at evading law enforcement. In some cases, they may hijack the vessel and detain the crew in an effort to receive a payment or another malicious reason. 

Types of maritime piracy:

  • Kidnapping
  • Stealing or commandeering a vessel
  • Acts of violence
  • Detention of a vessel or crewmembers
  • Theft of cargo, people, or other property

Piracy is not limited to a single act. It can include a wide range of activities that frequently result in harm. Research shows that the rates of piracy have increased in the past year.

Pirate Attacks on the High Seas

As reported by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), the rate of pirate attacks increased during the first half of 2023 compared to the previous year. 

Rates of maritime piracy:

  • In the first half of 2022, there were 58 incidents of piracy and armed robbery.
  • 65 incidents of piracy and armed robbery were reported during the first half of 2023. 
  • The ICC indicates that pirates were able to board targeted vessels over 90% of the time. 
  • 36 people were taken hostage in 2023 during acts of piracy. 
  • There were 14 people kidnapped, and three people were threatened.
  • Two ships were hijacked in pirate attacks. 

While there are hotspots where acts of piracy are more frequent than others, all crews should be aware of the dangers. It is important for captains and boat operators to take precautions to help avoid pirate attacks. Failure to keep crew members and passengers safe may result in liability if someone is injured as a result of maritime piracy. 

Contact Our Office to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation

Were you the victim of maritime piracy on the high seas? Contact Mase Seitz Briggs at (844) 627-3529 to schedule a free case evaluation. Our attorneys have decades of experience and are leaders in maritime law. We are trial lawyers who have handled thousands of cases, securing millions on behalf of our clients. Call our office today to speak directly with a member of our legal team. There are no fees unless we win.

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