It is said that there were 162 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships worldwide in 2019. These included 4 hijacked vessels, 17 attempted attacks, 130 vessels boarded, and 11 vessels fired upon. With an average crew number of 20 per vessel, these figures mean that over 3,000 seafarers experienced acts of piracy and armed robbery.
Specifically, the dramatic increase in the number of crew kidnappings in the Gulf of Guinea constitutes a global emergency for the shipping industry. The region accounted for 90% of kidnappings reported, with 121 crew members taken in 2019 alone.
Assaults and kidnappings occurred mainly in Nigeria, but also in Togo, Benin and Cameroon.
Martin Dorsman, ECSA's Secretary General commented that
This situation in the Gulf of Guinea poses a serious and immediate threat to the safety and security of seafarers, vessels and goods.
It is stressed that the EU has shown leadership in being a frontrunner in addressing piracy, such as through the Operation Atalanta in East Africa. The operation has successfully led to the decrease of attacks.
With the mandate coming up for renewal, ECSA strongly urges the EU to stay committed to this operation. Namely, Mr Dorsman stated that
The European shipping industry calls for the EU and its member states to take concrete action, as the circumstances are becoming dire. The EU should put maritime security high on the agenda of partnership and trade agreements, as well as other forms of cooperation with African partners in the region.
What is more, recently the Maritime Administration (MARAD) of the United States Department of Transportation issued one new advisory to commercial shipping, canceling the earlier ones issued in 2019; the 2020-002-Gulf of Guinea-Piracy/Armed Robbery/Kidnapping for Ransom, cancels the the U.S. Maritime Advisory 2019-010.
US MARAD stresses that piracy; armed robbery; kidnapping for ransom continue to serve as a significant threat to U.S. flagged operators with vessels transiting or operating in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG).