ISWAN welcomes the decrease in piracy as reported by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB). However, vigilance is still needed as ships are still being attacked and seafarers are still being affected. ISWAN works closely with the IMB and other organisations to support seafarers and their families effected by piracy.

London and Kuala Lumpur, July 2016

Piracy and armed robbery at sea has fallen to its lowest levels since 1995, despite a surge in kidnappings off West Africa, according to a new report from the International Chamber of Commerce's International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

IMB's global piracy report shows 98 incidents in the first half of 2016, compared with 134 for the same period in 2015. When piracy was at its highest, in 2010 and 2003, IMB recorded 445 attacks a year.

In the first half of 2016, IMB recorded 72 vessels boarded, five hijackings, and a further 12 attempted attacks. Nine ships were fired upon. Sixty-four crew were takenh ostage onboard, down from 250 in the same period last year.

"This drop in world piracy is encouraging news. Two main factors are recent improvements around Indonesia, and the continued deterrence of Somali pirates off East Africa," said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB, whose global Piracy Reporting Centre has supported the shipping industry, authorities and navies for 25 years.

"But ships need to stay vigilant, maintain security and report all attacks, as the threat of piracy remains, particularly off Somalia and in the Gulf of Guinea," he said. 

Nigeria is the world's piracy kidnapping hotspot. Despite global improvements, kidnappings are on the rise, with 44 crew captured for ransom in 2016, 24 of them in Nigeria, up from 10 in the first half of 2015. "In the Gulf of Guinea, rather than oil tankers being hijacked for their cargo, there is an increasing number of incidents of crew being kidnapped for ransom," said Captain Mukundan.

The Gulf of Guinea accounted for seven of the world's 10 kidnapping incidents, with armed gangs boarding vessels 30 to 120 NM from shore. Nigerian attacks are often violent, accounting for eight of the nine vessels fired upon worldwide. IMB says many further assaults go unreported by shipowners. 

IMB reported two further kidnap incidents off Sabah, where tugs and barges were targeted. And in early June, a tug and barge was hijacked off Balingian, Sarawak in Malaysia and its palm oil cargo stolen. 

Improvements have been made in Indonesia. IMB's Piracy Reporting Centre has been working closely with the Indonesian authorities to improve security at sea and in ports.

Low-level theft to ships at anchor has been brought down by introducing designated anchorages with improved security. This has contributed to a fall in the number of incidents in Indonesia to 24 in the first six months of 2016, compared with 54 in the same period in 2015.

IMB also applauded the Indonesian Navy's prompt response in recovering a hijacked product tanker, south of Pulau Serutu, off west Kalimantan in May, saying: "This is exactly the type of robust response required in response to such threats." Nine pirates were apprehended and the crew of the tanker unharmed.

The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre is the world's only independent office to receive reports of pirate attacks 24-hours-a-day from across the globe. IMB strongly urges all shipmasters and owners to report all actual, attempted and suspected piracy and armed robbery incidents to the local authorities as well as the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre. This first step in the response chain is vital to ensuring that adequate resources are allocated by authorities to tackle piracy. Transparent statistics from an independent, non-political, international organization can act as a catalyst to achieve this goal.


For further information please contact:
Pottengal Mukundan
Director, IMB
Tel: +44 20 7423 6960
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

IMB Piracy Reporting Centre
The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre is the world's only independent office to receive
reports of pirate attacks 24-hours-a-day from across the globe. IMB strongly urges all
shipmasters and owners to report all actual, attempted and suspected piracy and
armed robbery incidents to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre. This first step in the
response chain is vital to ensuring that adequate resources are allocated by authorities
to tackle piracy. Transparent statistics from an independent, non-political, international
organization can act as a catalyst to achieve this goal.

Seafarers can now easily access up-to-date information and guidance about HIV/AIDS on their mobile devices, thanks to a new wellbeing app launched by the ITF.

The free app is available for both Android and iOS devices. It provides the basic facts on HIV/AIDS – how it is transmitted, what the symptoms are, how you can prevent being infected and what treatment is available.

It also gives examples of workers who have challenged the stigma around the disease, and sets out what international and national rights a HIV-positive worker has.

Additionally, it separates the facts from the fiction about the disease, with 12 'myth busters'. For example, many people believe that a person with HIV can no longer work. The app explains that this is false – that an HIV positive person is as qualified as anyone else for any type of employment. Being infected with the virus does not alter one's capacity to function as well as everyone else.

ITF maritime co-ordinator Jacqueline Smith said: "Seafarers – like many transport workers – are particularly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. We hope this app will help them understand more about the disease and be able to find information quickly and easily, whether they're at sea, in port or at home. We want to help seafarers keep themselves and their families safe."

Other wellbeing issues will be added to the app in due course.

Download the free ITF wellbeing app now.

Find out more about the ITF's work on HIV/AIDS – including the results of its 2015 survey of member unions about the health and wellbeing needs and concerns of seafarers.

SeafarerHelp is the 24 hour multilingual helpline for seafarers run by the International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network (ISWAN). 2015 was a busy year for the SeafarerHelp team, with a 17% increase in the number of cases compared to 2014. Cases and seafarers helped have tripled since 2011, as seafarers have become more aware of the support we can provide.

With ten team members speaking over 11 languages, SeafarerHelp assisted nearly 10,000 seafarers of 86 different nationalities in 2015. Seafarers contacted us from 129 countries. The most common problem was unpaid wages while repatriation and contractual problems were also recurring issues, Many of the contacts that SeafarerHelp receives are referred on to specialist organisations for direct assistance. These include the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) and welfare organisations such as Mission to Seafarers, Apostleship of The Sea, and the Sailors Society. Other agencies that assisted included national embassies, harbour authorities, and medical service providers.

The SeafarerHelp team follow up on all cases, and seafarers are given the opportunity to provide feedback on the service. Seafarers said "don't stop helping seafarers that need assistance", "it is important that all seafarers have a charity like 'SeafarerHelp..." and "It made a lot of difference as it gave huge relief to me and my family."

Roger Harris, the Executive Director of ISWAN said ''2015 was another busy year for the SeafarerHelp team. We are proud of our dedicated staff who are able to provide round the clock assistance everyday of the year to seafarers no matter where they are in the world."

The SeafarerHelp Annual Review for 2015 is available for download at the bottom of this page, as is an infographic that summarises some of the vital information.

SeafarerHelp is provided by the International Seafarers Welfare and Assistance Network, an international charity the supports the welfare of seafarers worldwide. ISWAN is funded by the ITF Seafarers Trust, The TK Foundation and Seafarers UK.



11 Indian seafarers have recently returned from jail in Nigeria, having been released without charge. SeafarerHelp and ISWAN have been in touch with them and their families, through the National Seafarers Welfare Board of Nigeria and following a visit of the Sailors Society chaplain while they were in jail. On their return to India, the crew related the following tale.

Their ship, the tanker Maro, was intercepted by the Nigerian Navy on 22nd July 2014 when it was transiting through international waters and had to anchor off the waters of Nigeria due to failure of its main engine.

The Nigerian Navy arrested the crew of the ship and handed them over to the Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) on charges of illegal smuggling and theft of cargo.
The crew were remanded to judicial custody and were imprisoned for nearly two years. "We were fed with poor quality and low quantity of food and water. Two crew members had fractures on their legs while disembarking the ship," recalls one of the seafarers who has just returned back to his home. "We stayed in a small room where nearly 80-100 prisoners were held with no fans, no power, very hot and humid conditions and very poor hygiene."

The treatment received in when arrested was compounded by the lack of support from the shipowner. The ship was eventually released from arrest and has continued trading, but the seafarers have lost all their personal effects which were on board, including all their identity documents and certificates, and have received no salary or support of any kind since they were arrested. This has resulted in huge difficulties for their families as well as themselves.

ISWAN's seafarer helpline has been in contact with their families at home and is currently working on to assist them with their issues concerning medical and contractual payments. Recently, one of the ISWAN / MPHRP welfare responders visited the home of the crew member in Mumbai to assess their need for humanitarian support.

The crew thanked the Indian High Commission in Nigeria for their good efforts to bring them home. ISWAN / MPHRP Regional Director South Asia, Chirag Bahri, met with the crew member and his family in Mumbai. There are also four Nigerian and two Ghanaian seafarers who were on the same ship, and have also been repatriated.

ISWAN / MPHRP South Asia has expanded its remit to provide humanitarian support to families of missing seafarers, those who have committed suicide or are in jail, and therefore stands by the seafarers of MT Maro and their families to assist them with rehabilitation on return.

ISWAN asked to hear from women seafarers about their experiences. Female seafarers make up 2% of seafarers worldwide, and sometimes have the challenging task of dealing with gender stereotypes as well as the demanding life on board . We asked via Facebook and Twitter for stories, and Panagiota kindly agreed to tell us hers. If you want to be featured, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We'd love to hear experiences from seafarers everywhere.

I am Panagiota. I come from Greece,especially Peloponisos from a small village nearby the sea. From my early age I decided to follow the sea. Today, I am a 3rd officer from Merchant Marine Academy. I would like to tell you my story.

I am at sea 10 years now. I first started in ro/ro & cruise ships as a sales assistant. Then I joined merchant marine academy and the journey begins. Now ,after tankers,bulk carriers,and container vesels I may say this.."This job is only for those they love it ,despites the sex type. The job is not so easy but not so difficult as it is said. I have travelled around the world, I visited so many places, I now have friends from around the world. My heart pains when I leave my family but also I am happy when I see the sunset around the world.
I love what I do. I encourage younger people to continue even the situations sometimes coming rough.
Besides, if you dont leave the port you never see how is outside...

"Από τότε που κουράστηκα να ψάχνω,
έμαθα να βρίσκω. Κι από τότε που ο άνεμος μου εναντιώθηκε, έμαθα να
σαλπάρω με όλους τους ανέμους..."


"Since I was tired of looking, I learned to find. And since the wind opposed me, I learned to sail with the winds"

Fr. Nietzche

ISWAN asked to hear from women seafarers about their experiences. Female seafarers make up 2% of seafarers worldwide, and sometimes have the challenging task of dealing with gender stereotypes as well as the demanding life on board . We asked via Facebook and Twitter for stories, and Katerina kindly agreed to tell us hers. If you want to be featured, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We'd love to hear experiences from seafarers everywhere.


I come from Greece and particularly from Kos beautiful island, located in the southeastern Aegean. I am studying at Merchant Marine Academy and working as an Apprentice Officer in one of the largest shipping groups in the Mediterranean, the Attica group. I work on ships in the last two years. So far I have received full support during my training trips from the all the bridge teams that I have worked by far.

Nevertheless a difficulty faced by the majority of women working on ships is sexist attitudes by some colleagues as well as the fact that they consider women unreliable and not able to complete the work assigned to them. To all women who work on ships , I would say to continue their efforts, close their ears to the malicious comments and continue the good work to prove to everyone how much deserve their position.

Otherwise,I believe that women can be work at ships as a man can. The work is not man or woman but love. If you love your job, you 'll be succesful.


One of our team members working in Manila had a last minute opportunity to speak about and promote ISWAN's work and Seafarer Help at Luneta Seafarers' Welfare Foundation (LUSWELF) last week.
A legal lecture by Atty Dennis Gorecho was due to take place, and the lawyer generously offered our Manila representative Jun Pablo the use of the PA system to promote ISWAN after the lecture. Our team members are always ready and willing to share welfare information with seafarers in a variety of circumstances, and prepared promotional materials and a talk for those attending.

Despite bad weather, the seafarers were very interested in hearing about the welfare services that ISWAN provide, and helpline cards with contact information were distributed. 13 seafarers logged concerns and requests for assistance at the event itself, with our team able to get enough details that they could be referred to the correct services immediately. Most of them were contacted the same day.

After the success of this experience our Manila ISWAN team has been offered the opportunity to speak again this week. It is an excellent chance to meet, support and raise awareness with seafarers coming to the centre who may otherwise not have had access to information. We'd like to say well done to Jun Pablo for seizing the initiative.

(Guidelines from the ICWTWU and ICWTWU/FIT-CISL seminar, Venice, May 2015)

The reason for 80% of accidents on vessels is caused by human error which is often a result of fatigue.
To help overcome fatigue the following ideas may prove helpful and are recommended:

  • 1. To fulfill the requirements of the ILO Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, in particular Regulations 2-4 relating to the terms of employment, accommodation, food, medical care and social services welfare of crews.
  • 2. To fulfill the Convention and other documents of the IMO relating to safety of maritime labour, in particular, Resolution A 1047 "Principles of minimum safe manning" entered into force on 01.01.2014.
  • 3. To take into account professional requirements, appropriate health conditions and psychological compatibility when taking on crew.
  • 4. To ensure seafarers are paid decent wages according to international standards, and that there is no delay in payment as this can cause undue stress.
  • 5. To ensure qualitative professional selection for all seafarers.
  • 6. Keep in line with the new requirements of SOLAS regarding exceeding the maximum permissible noise levels in engine room and other areas of the vessel (including residential). Do not neglect the provision of headphones in engine room and ensure crews use them.
  • 7. To establish proper supply of victuals: skilled cook, varied menu, vitamins, juices, and vegetables. This will help seafarers to maintain a healthy weight.
  • 8. To ensure strict hygiene standards on board i.e. cleanliness on ship, provision of showers, baths and a sauna, and a regular change of linen as examples.
  • 9. To provide the vessel with the necessary equipment for crew to use to make daily life easier, such as washing machine, ironing equipment, as well as microwaves, refrigerators, coffee makers, etc.
  • 10. To provide the vessel with equipment and facilities for physical training and sports, promote its regular use.
  • 11. To ensure good quality of uniforms, timely and regular change of uniforms and footwear. Also make sure that uniform and shoes fit well so that the crew is comfortable.
  • 12. In case of absence of the ship's doctor; to have on board a competent crew member who is able to provide medical care, if necessary. To have a medicine chest with the necessary medicines and medical equipment in accordance with the ILO Recommendation 105, plus modern medicines introduced into circulation following the adoption of this Recommendation (1958).
  • 13. To try to ensure shore leave for all crew members despite the short stay of vessels in ports.
  • 14. To allow the crew members, if possible, to take their families' to sea: wives and, in some cases, children.
  • 15. To ensure on every ship unlimited access for crew members to send and receive e-mails to and from home.
  • 16. To pay attention and respect to the elderly crew members, giving them the opportunity to share their experience with young seafarers, to celebrate their achievements and do not be in a hurry to write them off, if health allows them to work at sea.
  • 17. To allow and encourage seafarers of different faiths to conduct their religious rites, to respect and encourage amongst the crew respect for all faiths.
  • 18. To have a library on board and to fill it regularly. To print crew relevant information supplied to the vessel. To put up in conspicuous place information of interest to the crew, in particular, the collective agreement between the company and the union.
  • 19. To have on board films and encourage film nights, to encourage seafarers to shoot and show videos, to update periodically a stock of films of varied repertoire and genres.
  • 20. In addition to TV, to have on board stereos, musical instruments (such as guitar)s, karaoke machines, and table games.
  • 21. To encourage amateur activities (hobbies) of seafarers (artistic creative work, modeling, photo, painting, etc.) and to create appropriate conditions to enable the fulfilment of these.
  • 22. To celebrate birthdays of crew members, congratulate them on the ship's announcement systems.
  • 23. To organize events devoted to commemorative dates, crossing the equator, the adoption of new members to the maritime brotherhood, etc.
  • 24. To encourage the cultivation of plants and flowers on board, and to install aquariums.
  • 25. To choose from the crew responsible persons to take ownership of roles that improve welfare. E.g. collective feeding, sanitary condition of the vessel, a library, cinema, entertainment, cultural and sports activities.
  • 26. To monitor at all levels any issues associated with the life of the seafarers on board a ship. These should be discussed regularly at meetings of trade union committees for improvement and input.
  • 27. To encourage crew members to have a good attitude to each other, including the relationships between superiors/commanders and subordinates.
  • 28. Do not allow carrying loading and unloading by the crew members during rest times, instead of resting, because it is harmful to their health. Ensure proper breaks are taken by all crew.
  • 29. To offer medical consultations on the radio about the provision of care to needy seafarers.
  • 30. To organize a regular doctor's visit on board. (for vessels flying the Italian flag it is provided by law), to have a medical card (in the native language of seafarer and English) for each seafarer, including in electronic format in order to facilitate the provision of medical care to the crew members in any port.

Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP), a program of the One Earth Future (OEF) Foundation focused on reducing violence at sea, has released a new report titled "After the Release: The Long‐term Impact of Piracy on Seafarers and Their Families." OEF's Research Director Conor Seyle, Ph.D. delivered a main stage presentation exploring the findings of this multi‐year research project at the ISWAN International Day of the Seafarer event in Manila at the SMX Conference Center on 25 June 2016

The report, developed in partnership with ISWAN/MPHRP and supported by The TK Foundation, documents significant negative long‐term impacts to seafarers who have been taken hostage following an act of maritime piracy. Notably, seafarers who had been held hostage were nearly six times more likely to exhibit symptoms like post‐traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. However, those impacts can be alleviated through training and programs focused on seafarer well‐being.

According to Seyle, "Our research shows that piracy can leave lasting impacts on seafarers and their families, especially for those seafarers who had been held hostage. Seafarers are a psychologically resilient group. Most will recover with assistance and support, and the likelihood of recovery can be maximized by good training, planning and communication before an attack, support for families while seafarers are hostages and a process of reintegration and formal mental health support for hostages and their families once they have returned."

The report is based on interviews with 167 seafarers from the Philippines, 153 from Ukraine and 145 from India. Seyle went on to say: "Other negative events at sea can also cause similar impacts; full reporting of all violent incidents at sea is therefore needed in order to understand the true magnitude of this problem and to allow relevant stakeholders to design and implement programs to better support seafarers."

An executive summary and video  are available for download. The full report can be downloaded here or at the bottom of this page.

For more information please contact Debra Havins of One Earth Future at +1 303‐210‐7269 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

About the Author:
Dr. Conor Seyle, director of the OEF Research Program, is a political psychologist and holds a Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Texas. He plans and directs the activities of the research department along with conducting his own research, which focuses on questions of what predicts and what resolves political conflict. Dr. Seyle is a FEMA‐approved trainer for the Crisis Counseling Program (the US governmental response to disaster‐impacts or traumas).

About OEF and OBP:
OEF is an independent and privately funded foundation located in Colorado, USA, with a mission to catalyze multi‐stakeholder cooperation to eliminate root causes of conflict. We focus on enhancing maritime cooperation, creating sustainable jobs in fragile economies and our research actively contributes to thought leadership on global issues.

OBP was launched in 2010 as OEF's f rst implementation program to encourage and support the development of a long‐term, sustainable and peaceful solution to maritime piracy through engaging all relevant maritime stakeholders.

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ISWAN held a successful event on Saturday 25 June at the SMX Convention Center in Manila to mark the IMO Day of the Seafarer. The event was attended by over 2,500 seafarers, maritime cadets, and their families. The IMO Secretary-General, Mr Kitack Lim, attended and spoke the event.

Roger Harris, Executive Director of ISWAN, said "It was an amazing day. The event surpassed all our expectations. We were grateful for the presence of the Secretary-General and for the support of the sponsors. We were particularly appreciative of the participation of the all seafarers and their families who attended."

Robert Kledal, Chief Executive Officer of Wrist Ship Supply, said "Wrist Ship Supply are proud of being associated with the ISWAN Day of the Seafarer event held in Manila last Saturday (25 June). As a main sponsor, we were pleased to see over 2,500 seafarers and families enjoying the day at the SMX Convention Center. It was important that we celebrated the Day of the Seafarer in the Philippines where a large proportion of the world's seafarers come from."

The day consisted of a series of a wide range activities including on stage entertainment throughout the day, and a talent show by cadets from maritime schools. Seafarers and their families were able to take part in family activities in the Children's Zone, sponsored by GASFI, and visit a range of company stands in the exhibition area with free giveaways. The event also included a Health and Well-being zone, sponsored by UK PandI Club, which 1500 seafarers passed through to take basic medical tests, and receive health literature and medical advice from volunteer doctors and nurses.

The winner of the talent show was NTMA Creative Waves with 14 cadets from NYK-TDG Maritime Academy.

The day was hosted by Filipino celebrity Ms Issa Litton.

The event was sponsored by the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), Wrist Ship Supply, The UK PandI Club, AMOSUP, Inmarsat, IMEC, The International Chamber of Shipping, Seafarer Asia Magazine, PSU, Phil Health, and iVitta/Hya and was supported by the IMO.

The ISWAN Day of the Seafarer event provided an opportunity to celebrate the vital contribution of seafarers to our everyday lives as they are at sea for all of us. With one third of all seafarers coming from the Philippines, Manila was the perfect place to celebrate and show our appreciation for everything all seafarers, all over the world, do for us.

A short video of the event will be available shortly.

Photos from the day can be found here.

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