Gulf of Guinea still a piracy high risk area


]The International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB) report for 2019’s third quarter shows fewer incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships than the first nine months of 2018, but Africa’s Gulf of Guinea remains a high risk area.

A hundred and nineteen incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships have been reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC) in 2019, compared to 156 incidents for the same period in 2018. Overall, the 2019 incidents include 95 vessels boarded, 10 vessels fired on, 10 attempted attacks and four vessels hijacked. The number of crew taken hostage in the first nine months declined to 49 this year from 112 in 2018.

The overall number of incidents has dropped but incidents involving guns and knives remain consistent. There have been 24 knife-related and 35 gun-related incidents reported in 2019, compared to 25 and 37 for the first nine months of 2018. Statistics confirm IMB concerns on continued threats to seafarers’ safety and security.

The Gulf of Guinea remains a high risk area for piracy and armed robbery. The region accounts for 86% of crew taken hostage and almost 82% of crew kidnappings globally.

In July a general cargo vessel was hijacked approximately 120 nm south-west of Brass, Nigeria. Ten crew members were kidnapped and released four weeks later. In August a bulk carrier and a general cargo vessel were boarded within hours of each other at Douala anchorage, in Cameroon and 17 crew kidnapped from the vessels. Within six weeks all kidnapped crew were released. These incidents demonstrate the range of piracy activity in the Gulf of Guinea and that all types of ships are vulnerable to attack. Lagos recorded 11 incidents in 2019, the highest number for any port.

“Although incidents are down, the Gulf of Guinea continues to be a concern for piracy and armed robbery-related activities with kidnapping increasing in both scale and frequency,” said Pottengal Mukundan, ICC IMB director. “It is important that shipmasters and owners continue to report all actual, attempted and suspected incidents to ensure an accurate picture of attacks emerges and action is taken against these criminals before incidents escalate.”

Somalia recorded no piracy-related incidents for the first nine months of 2019. Although no incidents were reported, Somali pirates still have the capacity to attack in the Somali basin and wider Indian Ocean. Ship owners and operators are advised to be cautious when transiting these waters.

Indonesia reported a decline in overall piracy related incidents with 20 actual and attempted attacks for the first nine months of 2019. Over the past five years, Indonesia gradually reduced piracy related incidents. In 2015 Indonesia reported 86 actual and attempted piracy incidents through the third quarter. Indonesia’s gains are attributed to continued information sharing between the Indonesian Marine Police and the IMB PRC.