Country Risk

Sulu and Celebes seas remain hotspot for piracy, despite Philippine countermeasures having reduced attack levels

01 March 2018

Key Points

  • After March 2016, a spate of increasingly audacious hijackings has targeted ever-larger-tonnage vessels in the tri-border area (TBA) between Indonesia, Malaysia, and the southern Philippines in the Sulu and Celebes seas.
  • These incidents have prompted the Philippines to undertake several measures – unilaterally and with Indonesia and Malaysia – to enhance collective maritime domain awareness (MDA) in the region.
  • Countermeasures have helped reduce attack levels, but the TBA will remain a potential hotspot for piracy on the high seas and armed maritime crime in territorial waters.


The Sulu and Celebes seas present a complex threat environment affected by piracy and increasing Islamist militancy.

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