ICS voices concern over piracy in Gulf of Guinea
THE number of ship's crewmembers being kidnapped in the Gulf of Guinea rose by 50 per cent in 2019 and this year has been blighted with a further escalation of violence, armed robbery and kidnapping, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) said
THE number of ship's crewmembers being kidnapped in the Gulf of Guinea rose by 50 per cent in 2019 and this year has been blighted with a further escalation of violence, armed robbery and kidnapping, the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) said.
The ICS warned that the crisis is deepening - pirates are bolder and taking greater number of hostages. Levels of violence are high, and deaths have occurred both during attacks and during captivity of seafarers and military personnel. For example, 20 crewmembers were kidnapped from the MT Duke on December 15 with one of those crewmembers dying in captivity.
Ninety per cent of global kidnappings reported at sea took place in the Gulf of Guinea, with the majority of attacks on shipping launched from within Nigerian territorial waters.
Nigeria is improving its maritime security capability through programmes such as the Deep Blue Project, which the ICS applauds and encourages.
The ICS called on the international community to respond to this threat to the lives and wellbeing of seafarers by supporting Nigeria in bringing a swift resolution to this situation. 'Practical and effective assistance should be provided to coastal states to improve their maritime security in a meaningful way, and Naval assets in the region need to be prepared to respond to piracy incidents.'
Speaking after the ICS board meeting in London, chairman of the ICS Esben Poulsson said: 'Our absolute priority will always be the safety and welfare of the crew. We stand ready and willing to work in close partnership with the government of Nigeria, and the international community to protect ships and their crews as they go about their legitimate business.
'Seafarers have the right to operate free from the fear of kidnap or capture. But improved security in the Gulf of Guinea will also boost Nigerian industry. There is an opportunity to pursue win-win cooperation.
'We welcome efforts of the Nigerian Navy to respond to reported incidents of piracy by dispatching patrol boats. However, the spike in incidents indicates in 2019 and this year has shown just how far away we are from solving this endemic issue.
'The declining rate of piracy incidents elsewhere reinforces the importance of communication and coordination between vessels and authorities. The more information national governments and relevant authorities have on piracy trends, the stronger piracy prevention efforts will be.'