Ongoing efforts to tackle piracy in the Gulf of Guinea

Encouraging statistics released by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) in its half-year report of 2022 suggests a reduction in the number of reported cases of piracy in one of the world’s most notorious locations for kidnaping and piracy – the Gulf of Guinea.

It is hoped that the initiatives credited for this decrease in numbers will prove as successful as those belatedly adopted in the Gulf of Aden, ultimately resulting in a purge on Somali piracy.

Response to Gulf of Guinea piracy attacks

In 2021, the IMB reported a steady downward trend in global piracy, showing that actual and attempted attacks had fallen to less than 50% of 2012 figures. The Gulf of Guinea was the exception to this trend – here, the number of incidents had risen to almost 50% more than the 2012 figures. Statistics taken from 2020 show that 95% of crew kidnappings and 40% of piracy attacks occurred in this area.

These figures fell in 2021 as a consequence of the creation of the ‘Deep Blue’ – an initiative driven by the Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Maritime Safety Agency (NIMASA). However, in May 2022, the UN Security Council issued a statement advising that the Gulf of Guinea was still a global hotspot.

In response to this statement, a joined up approach to tackle piracy and kidnapping in the Gulf of Guinea has been launched by the Nigerian Industry Working Group (NIWG) made up of key stakeholders in the area including the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), BIMCO, Intertanko, Intercargo, Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) and representatives of the Nigerian Navy and NIMASA.

The necessity of a collaborative approach

In addition to the IMB’s half year statement, a status report issued by NIMASA in July 2022 confirmed that there had not yet been any reported case of kidnap for ransom in the area for 2022, as against 20 cases in 2020 and 12 in 2021.

The commitment of the shipping community to tackling piracy in the area has clearly encouraged this project, which is intended to identify areas of improvement and reinforcement in order to eliminate piracy.

The two main strands of the project are:

  • Actions that can be overseen by the NIWG.
  • Actions that require engagement with other regional and international partners.

This collaborative approach, tackling this global issue is good news for the shipping industry and insurers, who traditionally bear the financial impact of these events. It is also a positive step towards promoting economic growth in the area, which has added benefits of reducing civil unrest and related crime, property and cargo damage events.

The continuation of these joined up initiatives are essential to this region if they are to achieve the success experienced in the Gulf of Aden in eradicating the scourge of piracy.

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