Piracy increases by 22% in Southeast Asia

Luke Graham, special to CNBC

More and more ships are falling victim to piracy and maritime crime in the seas of Southeast Asia since January, with a 22 percent increase on the same time last year, according to statistics from intelligence company Dryad.

Since the start of the year there have been 120 reported crimes and in the last three months alone, there have been five vessel hijackings and 27 robberies.

Many of the thefts have occurred to ships crossing the Singapore Straits in the South China Sea; 48 ships have reported incidents since January. Ships docking in Bangladesh and Vietnam have also been robbed.

Indonesian navy sailors escort men accused of piracy, after they were arrested for attacking a Singaporean ship in Indonesia's Karimata strait from a navy ship in Jakarta's Tanjung Priok Harbor.

The survey from Dryad shows that the majority of maritime crime now occurs around Southeast Asia. For comparison, so far this year there have been 34 incidents of crime in the Gulf of Guinea near West Africa and just four incidents in the Indian Ocean. There were a further 25 attacks around the rest of the world.

Read MoreCrime on the high seas: The world's most pirated waters

However, while the incidents in Southeast Asia focus on hijacking ships in order to steal cargo, most of the attacks in the Gulf of Guinea were to kidnap sailors for ransom.

"Our latest figures for piracy and maritime crime highlight the uncertain, chaotic and, sometimes, dangerous nature of global maritime operations," said Dryad's chief operating officer Ian Millen, in a press release.

"Southeast Asia is in urgent need of a joined-up effort to tackle the criminal gangs who are hijacking small regional tankers and robbing other vessels in transit, with the Singapore Strait being in dire need of some effective, coordinated action."

According to the report from Dryad, two sets of hijackers in Southeast Asia have been arrested this year, which will hopefully result in a slowdown in the numbers of incidents in the region. But Dryad also expects a return of attempted hijacks in July by criminal gangs.

The number of attacks by pirates in Southeast Asia has been increasing year-on-year. According to figures from the ICC's International Maritime Bureau, there were 42 recorded attacks in 2009. By 2013, it had climbed to 125.

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