World maritime body wants action on Gulf of Guinea piracy
The Gulf of Guinea is repeatedly the worst body of water in the world for mariners with high rates of piracy which a top maritime organisation wants to see an end to. The 73-year-old International Maritime Organisation (IMO) said increased collaboration and action is needed to tackle escalation in the number and severity of attacks in the Gulf of Guinea region which threaten “lives and well-being of seafarers as well as the safety of shipping”. A statement from London headquartered IMO has it that a resolution on recommended action to address piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea was adopted by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC). “The IMO calls on its 174 member states, national authorities, the UN and relevant organisations to consider strengthening law enforcement to arrest and prosecute pirates in relevant jurisdictions, in accordance with international law and national legal frameworks”.
Part of the call is for coastal states to “harmonise” criminal penalties for piracy and other maritime crimes. “All are urged to support and encourage wider participation in the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum (GoG-MCF/SHADE GoG) and other platforms, such as the G7++ Friends of the Gulf of Guinea (G7++FoGG). This will improve maritime security and safety in the region and facilitate strengthening co-operation for regional maritime patrol and protection. “The resolution highlights the need for greater collaboration with all critical stakeholders, including information-sharing on maritime criminality and illegality, use of maritime domain awareness such as MDAT-GoG (Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade for the Gulf of Guinea) and surface and/or air patrol capabilities.
“The resolution requests IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim to use technical co-operation funds in support of capacity building in the Gulf of Guinea. This will go to tackling piracy and armed robbery and explore a common platform for information sharing between existing mechanisms, including MDAT-GoG, the NIMASA C4i-Centre, regional reporting centres, the ICC IMB piracy reporting centre and relevant law enforcement entities. “Member States, international organisations and stakeholders are urged to contribute financially to the IMO West and Central Africa Maritime Security Trust Fund.
“The resolution welcomed other efforts in the region to curb piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Gulf of Guinea. These include drafting anti-piracy laws, the Nigerian Government’s Deep Blue project, the Inter-regional Coordination Centre in Yaounde and the ongoing establishment of the Yaounde Architecture Regional Integration System (YARIS). “IMO and the shipping industry support efforts to tackle piracy and armed robbery against ships and the kidnapping of seafarers and/or passengers in the Gulf of Guinea by, among others, technical assistance to member states to implement maritime security measures.
Other initiatives include supporting regional initiatives such as the Interregional Co-ordination Centre (ICC) to assist with implementation of the Yaounde Code of Conduct (YCC). The shipping industry provides Best Management Practices (BMP) West Africa (WA) to assist companies and seafarers in assessing risks associated with transits through the Gulf of Guinea and mitigate potential threats. “Based on 2020 reports submitted to IMO the number of incidents in the Gulf of Guinea (West Africa) increased to 90 (up by 20 compared to 2019), with a total of 112 crew members reported kidnapped or missing.
This was a significant proportion of the 226 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships occurred or attempted in 2020 globally.
To date this year, 23 incidents have been reported in the West Africa region,” the IMO statement said.