Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia are in discussions to extend joint patrols to deal with a resurgence of piracy in the South China Sea piracy hotspots, said Singapore’s Chief of Navy Rear-Admiral Lai Chung Han.

Singapore’s Today reports that the extension of these patrols – which have been successful in curbing piracy in the Strait of Malacca – is complicated by competing territorial claims in these waters.

The area and the Phillip Channel, which is 16 km south of Singapore, were places highlighted by Rear-Admiral Lai as new piracy hot spots.

Lai admitted that there was concern with the proximity to the contested claims of South China Sea, and he certainly doesn’t want those issues to be conflated. “We are very focused on dealing with the piracy situation and none of us really benefit from letting this situation fester” he quoted as saying.

Pirates attack one small coastal oil tanker every two weeks in the waters off South-east Asia, the reported said, citing International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

Latest figures from the IMB show ships are being hijacked in Southeast Asian waters on average once a fortnight for the past 12 months, making the region by far the world’s hotspot for piracy. Small coastal tankers are most at threat. Southeast Asia accounted for more than half of all attacks since the beginning of 2015.

The South China Sea has engendered much fierce debate between nations around it in recent years over who controls what – with China increasingly alienating nations in Southeast Asia by its adamant claims to the sea.

This article first appeared on MarineLink.com