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West Africa is a hotspot for maritime piracy, kidnap and armed robbery

THE majority of maritime kidnappings and hostage-takings took place in or near the Gulf of Guinea between January and September, according to data compiled by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB)

West Africa is a hotspot for maritime piracy, kidnap and armed robbery

THE majority of maritime kidnappings and hostage-takings took place in or near the Gulf of Guinea between January and September, according to data compiled by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB)

24 October 2019 - 19:00

THE majority of maritime kidnappings and hostage-takings took place in or near the Gulf of Guinea between January and September, according to data compiled by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

The global maritime piracy watchdog said that worldwide 70 actual kidnappings of seafarers and 49 hostage-takings were reported in the year to date. Twenty-three hostage-takings happened in the West African country of Guinea, 12 in Nigeria and seven in the West African nation of Togo. Cameroon and Nigeria were also identified as hot spots for kidnapping, reported American Shipper.



The IMB said 86 per cent of all maritime hostage-taking and 82 per cent of all actual kidnappings occurred in or near the Gulf of Guinea. There were also 119 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships in the first nine months of the year, representing a decrease of 31 per cent year on year.



'Although incidents are down, the Gulf of Guinea continues to be a concern for piracy and armed robbery-related activities, with kidnappings of crew members increasing in both scale and frequency,' IMB director Pottengal Mukundan was quoted as saying.



That said, IMB assistant director Cyrus Moody told FreightWaves that the watchdog's own research shows that 50 per cent of incidents are under-reported.



Possible reasons why include the fear that insurers will raise rates if it is known that a ship was attacked. There are also concerns that if an attack on a ship is reported, the criminals may 'go harder on the crew' the next time the same ship is attacked. Some operators may worry that local authorities could hold or delay the ship.



The Gulf of Guinea is an attractive area of operations for marine criminals on account of there being many ships calling at the numerous ports that carry a great deal of cargo. Also, the vessels may be travelling slowing because they are entering or leaving port. They may be sitting low in the water, and are therefore easier for pirates to board, because they are fully laden. Or they may be at anchor waiting for commercial instructions or repairs.



Furthermore, the targets are poorly defended due to certain provisions of international law.


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