The Government of Nigeria and a coalition of global shipping stakeholders have launched a new strategy to end piracy, armed robbery, and kidnapping in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG).
he strategy establishes a mechanism to periodically assess the effectiveness of country-piracy initiatives and commitments in the GoG. Targeted at all stakeholders operating in the region, it will identify areas of improvement and reinforcement in order to eliminate piracy.
The plan is split into two mutually supportive sections:
- Actions which can be overseen by the Nigerian Industry Working Group (NIWG);
- Actions which require engagement with other regional and international partners.
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The strategic ambition of the coalition is to eliminate piracy in the GoG, to secure trade routes, reassure traversing crews, and support local communities. In May, the UN Security Council condemned the GoG as the world’s piracy hotspot.
Despite the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Center tracking an overall drop in global piracy during 2021, threat levels in the region remain high.
Namely, according to IMB’s latest global piracy and armed robbery report, 37 incidents were recorded in the first three months of 2022, compared to 38 incidents over the same period last year.
On the brightside, due to the efforts taken by maritime authorities in the region, there have been no reported crew kidnappings within Gulf of Guinea waters in Q1 2022. This is a welcome change compared to 40 crew kidnappings in the same period in 2021.
The efforts of the regional and international navies have also resulted in a reduction of reported incidents from 16 in the first quarter of 2021 to seven over the same period in 2022.
The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre however urges the Coastal response agencies and independent international navies to continue their efforts to ensure piracy is permanently addressed in these highly risky waters
In fact, the threat to innocent seafarers remains and is best exemplified with a recent attack where a Panamax sized bulk carrier was boarded by pirates 260 NM off the coast of Ghana on 3 April. This illustrates that despite a decrease in reported incidents, the threat of Gulf of Guinea piracy and crew kidnappings remains.
Piracy activity in the GoG has posed a severe threat to seafarers and local communities for over a decade. In 2020, 40% of piracy attacks, and 95% of crew kidnappings occurred in the region.
However, attacks decreased by nearly 60% in 2021, following the establishment of Deep Blue, the Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Maritime Safety Agency (NIMASA) anti-piracy project, and increased international counter-piracy operations in the GoG.
The newly launched strategy was developed by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), BIMCO, Intertanko, Intercargo, Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF), and representatives of the Nigerian Navy and NIMASA, together making up the NIWG.
The agreement of this strategy demonstrates the strong relationship between the shipping industry and Nigeria, and their shared commitment to eradicating piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. The strategy is already identifying successes and areas in which further improvement will continue to reduce the capability of pirates to attack innocent seafarers in the region
Guy Platten, Secretary General of ICS, commented.
In addition, a spokesperson of the Nigerian Navy added that “collaborating with national as well as international stakeholders is most important, and this joint strategy demonstrates the good that can be achieved by working together.”