FILE PHOTO: A tanker moored in Lagos, Nigeria. Photo: Igor Grochev / Shutterstock

Shipping Industry Stakeholders Launch Gulf of Guinea Declaration on Suppression of Piracy

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 1603
May 20, 2021

A growing number of maritime companies have signed the Gulf of Guinea Declaration on Suppression of Piracy, representing a call to action to help end to scourge of piracy against ships in the region.

The Gulf of Guinea remains the world’s most active hotspots for maritime piracy and armed robbery. In 2020, IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) reports 135 crew were kidnapped from their vessels in 22 separate piracy incidents in the region, representing 95% of the crew kidnappings reported worldwide during the year. So far this year, piracy incidents in the Gulf of Guinea have shown no signs of letting up, with 43% of all reported piracy incidents occurring in the region. In addition, the region accounted for all 40 kidnapped crew incidents, as well as the only crew fatality, according to IMB.

“We hope that all parties with an interest in a safe Gulf of Guinea will sign this Declaration,” says Sadan Kaptanoglu, president of the world’s largest international shipping association BIMCO, which helped spearhead the Declaration. Kaptanoglu is also a shipowner who has personally had a ship hijacked and crew kidnapped in the Gulf of Guinea.

So far, 99 maritime companies, organizations and flag states, have signed the Gulf of Guinea Declaration on Suppression of Piracy as of its launch last week. In signing, signatories agree that piracy and kidnappings are preventable through active anti-piracy operations, including law enforcement by non-regional naval forces, with the aim of reducing the number of attacks by 80% by the end of 2023.

BIMCO maintains that the piracy can be suppressed with as little as two frigates with helicopters and one maritime patrol aircraft to actively combat piracy in the area. While the Declaration does not aspire to provide a long-term solution to the problem of piracy in the region, signatories hope the raised awareness can help make seafarers safer today.

The problem of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea was briefly addressed at the recent meeting of the International Maritime Organization’s Maritime Safety Committee held earlier this month, however much more work is needed particularly in the short term, according to BIMCO.

“The root causes of the piracy problem in the Gulf of Guinea can only be solved by Nigeria. An estimated 30 million people live in the Niger Delta, many under difficult conditions, and it would be naïve to think that anyone other than Nigeria can address the roots of the piracy problem. However, suppressing piracy will help our seafarers, just like it did off Somalia a few years ago. It will also establish security at sea and enable regional blue economies to prosper. Without security there can be no development,” says Carlo Cameli, Chair of BIMCO’s Maritime Safety & Security Committee.

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