Piracy is a major issue around the world. It impacts people travelling by boat in both coastal and international waters.
Explore this page to learn:
This page is for Australians preparing to travel by boat. If you're already travelling and need help, see our advice on what to do if you are a victim of crime overseas.
What is piracy
Piracy takes many forms. It may include armed robbery, kidnapping for ransom or murder. It can also include crimes of opportunity, such as unlawful requests for payments for anchorage.
All forms of shipping are attractive targets for pirates. This includes commercial vessels, pleasure craft (such as yachts) and luxury cruise liners.
Learn more about the global threat of piracy (United Nations).
High risk areas for piracy
Whether you're travelling by commercial vessel or private yacht, you should be aware of the risk of piracy in parts of the world. In particular:
- the Horn of Africa, including the Gulf of Aden and Yemen
- the Gulf of Guinea
- South East Asia
- the South China Sea
If you need to pass through these waters, you should exercise extreme caution. Consider additional security arrangements, and have contingency plans in place.
If you're going on a cruise through a piracy prone area, ask the cruise company about their security measures. Find out about their policies and procedures in the event of a pirate attack.
For up to date information on pirate attacks, see the live piracy map. Also see more about piracy prone areas and warnings (International Maritime Bureau).
The Horn of Africa including the Gulf of Aden and Yemen
We strongly advise Australians to avoid travelling to the coastal waters of Somalia and Yemen in the Indian Ocean. These waters are extremely high-risk.
Pirates from this region have attacked shipping more than 1,500 nautical miles (2778 km) from the coast of Somalia. Pirates have attacked people sailing near:
- the west coast of India
- Western Maldives
The Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa (MSCHA) provides information for mariners in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia. This includes advice for people on sailing vessels. Some services require registration.
The Gulf of Guinea
The Gulf of Guinea extends from Liberia to Gabon in West Africa. The growth of the oil and gas industry in the region has contributed to an increase of piracy incidents in the Gulf of Guinea since 2012.
Hijackings and cargo theft are a security concern for coastal West African States.
- The Straits of Malacca
- The Singapore Straits
- Penang in Malaysia
- Bintan in Indonesia
- Phuket in Thailand
- The coast of Sabah and Sarawak in Malaysia
- The Sulu Sea between Palawan and Mindanao in the Philippines and Kalimantan in Indonesia
The South China Sea
- Anambas, Natuna, Mangkai Islands and Subi Besar area
- The Vung Tau area of Vietnam
- several areas in Indonesia (namely Tanjung Priok - Jakarta/Dumai, Belawan, Taboneo, Muara Jawa)
Other piracy prone regions
- East Africa, particularly Tanzania and Kenya.
- South America, particularly Peru, Venezuela and Brazil.
- the Caribbean and Central America, especially in anchorage areas in Port Au Prince, Haiti.
Reducing the risk of piracy
Research your destinations on and near your route
- Before you go, read the travel advisories for all destinations near your route.
- Subscribe for updates to our advice for these destinations.
- Monitor piracy reports. Adjust your route if there's increased pirate activity on it.
Monitor news and broadcasts
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) runs a global 24-hour Piracy Reporting Centre. The IMB is a specialised division of the International Chamber of Commerce
- issues daily piracy reports
- broadcasts reports to all shipping on the Safety Net service of Inmarsat-C
- publishes a live piracy map, included attempted attacks an suspicious vessels
The services of the centre are free. They're available to all ships, irrespective of their flag.
Learn more about the Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB).
Where to get help if you're a victim or witness of piracy
International Anti-Piracy helpline
The IMB has a 24-hour Maritime Security Hotline. Contact them to report piracy, or any suspicious activity you see at sea.
- phone (60 3) 20310014
- facsimile (60 3) 2078576
- telex MA34199 IMBPCI
You can also email email@example.com.
The Australian Government is limited in how and when it can help Australians overseas, and on the seas.
Pirates, like kidnappers or terrorists, are criminals. They're unlikely to respect the international laws that give you a right to consular assistance. This means they may not let you contact us.
If you can, contact the nearest Australian embassy or consulate. Or, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305, SMS +61 421 269 080.
Understand our limits. Read the Consular Services Charter.
- Read our travel advice for your planned destinations.
- See our advice for travelling by boat.
- Going on a cruise? Read our cruising page.
- Find out what to do in the event of a tsunami.
- See our advice about avoiding kidnapping.
- Find an Australian embassy or consulate (DFAT)
- Learn more about the global threat of piracy (United Nations).
- Read the travel insurance buying guide (CHOICE).
- Learn more about piracy (Department of Infrastructure and Transport).
- Learn about preventing piracy and armed robbery at sea (UK Government).
- For up to date information on pirate attacks, see the live piracy map (International Chamber of Commerce).