Discovering maritime-piracy hotspots: a study based on AHP and spatio-temporal analysis

Marios Tsioufis, Antonios Fytopoulos, Dimitra Kalaitzi, Thomas A. Alexopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Shipping is the backbone of international trade and oil companies want their oil tankers to arrive safely. The safety and security of international shipping of crucial elements such as oil has always been important aspect in the landscape of piracy. The implications of piracy attacks are linked with loss of cargo or personnel, economic and environmental catastrophe. Despite maritime piracy being a major concern to international trade, no comprehensive study considers the causing factors and spatio-temporal patterns that influence the choice of attack areas. Thus, this research expands our understanding on the areas where piracy mainly occurs, and its underlying causes. To achieve these objectives, AHP and spatio-temporal analysis applied by using data from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. The results indicate that territorial waters are preferable areas; thus, pirates prefer to attack the ships close to the coastline fewer times near ports, and rarely in international waters. This is in line with the spatio-temporal analysis results that show that pirates except for the Arabian sea prefer to hit close to the coastline of countries that face political instability, lack of properly functioning government and extreme poverty. Moreover, pirates in certain areas are influenced by the activity and the information from other pirates, which can be used as tool from the authorities e.g., derive information from pirates that have been arrested. Overall, this study contributes on the literature of maritime piracy, and it could be used to enhance security and build tailored defense strategies in perilous water areas.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnals of Operations Research
Early online date28 Apr 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright © The Author(s) 2023. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. To view a copy of this licence, visit


  • AHP
  • Maritime piracy
  • Oil tankers
  • Spatio-temporal data analysis
  • Time-varying granger causality


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