Piracy Definitions

1.It is important to use common definitions and guidelines when reporting piracy attacks and suspicious activity because this will ensure:
○ Harmonised data assessment.
○ Provision of consistent reporting.
○ Harmonised intelligence gathering.

2. ‘Piracy’ is defined in the 1982 United Nations Convention
on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) (article 101). However, for
the purposes of these BMP, it is important to provide clear,
practical, working guidance to the Industry to enable accurate
and consistent assessment of suspicious activity and piracy

3. The following are the BMP Guidelines to assist in assessing
what is a piracy attack and what is suspicious activity:
○A piracy attack may include, (but is not limited to), actions 
such as the following:
○The use of violence against the ship or its personnel, or
any attempt to use violence.
○Attempt(s) to board the vessel where the Master
suspects the persons are pirates.
○An actual boarding whether successful in gaining
control of the vessel or not.
○Attempts to overcome the Ship Protection Measures
by the use of:

○ Ladders.
○ Grappling hooks.
○ Weapons deliberately used against or at the vessel.

For the purposes of BMP the following definitions distinguish between the differing levels of pirate activity: 

Pirate Attack
A piracy attack as opposed to an approach is where a vessel has been subjected to an aggressive approach by a pirate craft AND weapons have been discharged.
A hijack is where pirates have boarded and taken control of a vessel against the crew’s will.
Illegal Boarding
An illegal boarding is where pirates have boarded a vessel but HAVE NOT taken control. Command remains with the Master. The most obvious example of this is the Citadel scenario. Suspicious or Aggressive Approach

4. Guidelines for defining suspicious activity:
Action taken by another craft may be deemed suspicious if any of the following occur (the list is not exhaustive):

 ○A definite course alteration towards the craft associated with a rapid increase in speed, by the suspected craft, that cannot be accounted for as normal activity in the circumstances prevailing in the area.

 ○Small craft sailing on the same course and speed for an uncommon period and distance, not in keeping with normal fishing or other circumstances prevailing
in the area.

 ○Sudden changes in course towards the vessel and aggressive behaviour.

5. Guidance Note:
In helping to evaluate suspicious activity, the following may be of assistance to determine the nature of a suspect vessel:
1. The number of crew on board relative to its size.
2. The Closest Point of Approach (CPA).
3. The existence of unusual and non-fishing equipment, e.g. ladders, climbing hooks or large amounts of fuel onboard.
4. If the craft is armed in excess of the level commonly experienced in the area.
5. If weapons are fired in the air.

○ This is not an exhaustive listing. Other events, activity and craft may be deemed suspicious by the Master of a merchant vessel having due regard to their own seagoing experiences within the High Risk Area and information shared amongst the international maritime community. The examples above are to be treated only as guidance and are not definitive or exhaustive.