High Level Meet on Piracy in Gulf of Guinea
A high-level meeting on piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea held at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) head office in London, was attended by the shipping community, Flag States, seafarer groups and maritime agencies, including International Maritime Bureau (IMB).
The symposium has shone the spotlight on the need for urgent action to ensure the safety and security of seafarers transiting the region.
Discussion were animated, but all gathered were in consensus as to the outcome, which is to identify actions that will reduce the risks posed to seafarers and shipping, and to make crew kidnappings ‘history’.
Dr. Grahaeme Henderson, Chair of the UK Shipping Defence Advisory Committee and Vice President of Shell Shipping & Maritime, said the high level of piracy and armed robbery attacks in the Gulf of Guinea was not acceptable.
“Yet it is happening every day, and this is not business as usual. We need to take urgent action now,” he urged.
His views were echoed by Jakob Larsen, Head of Security for BIMCO said that regional states needed to play their part as well. “Nigerian piracy mainly affects a small geographical area of around 150 x 150 nautical miles. The problem can be solved easily and quickly, especially if Nigeria partners with international navies. Nigeria holds the key to solving this problem,” Larsen said.
In his keynote address, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, Director General and CEO of the Nigerian Maritime Authority and Safety Agency (NIMASA) acknowledged the maritime security risks present in the Gulf of Guinea.
However, he said that new initiatives underway to improve the joint capacity of Nigerian law enforcement and Navy capabilities could make seafarer kidnappings “history” within a matter of months.
The latest quarterly piracy report published by IMB shows that in the first quarter of 2019, the Gulf of Guinea accounted for all of the worldwide crew kidnappings; 21 crew members were kidnapped across five separate incidents.