A spate of pirate attacks on ships in the past 12 months has prompted shipping organisation BIMCO to call for international intervention.
In a statement BIMCO said “Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is an unacceptable burden to seafarers and shipping companies. Around 40 ships have been attacked in the Gulf of Guinea in the past 12 months. Most recently, six seafarers were kidnapped from the MSC Mandy, which was on the way to Lagos, Nigeria. BIMCO asks, on behalf of its members, that maritime powers increase their presence and expand their collaboration with local states to curb piracy”.
“We look towards the EU, China and the United States to join forces and deploy naval capacity in the Gulf of Guinea to end this constant threat to seafarers,“ Jakob P Larsen, BIMCO Head of Maritime Security, said.
In the 2013 Yaoundé Code of Conduct, states in the Gulf of Guinea recognised that piracy constituted an issue and initiated several initiatives to strengthen maritime security. The Yaoundé Code of Conduct was inspired by the United Nations’ Security Council Resolution 2018 (2011) and 2039 (2012) and contains several initiatives to strengthen maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.
“BIMCO remains very thankful to the regional navies who are working tirelessly and with great sacrifice to secure their seas. While these efforts command our deepest respect, pirates in the Gulf of Guinea can still operate largely unchecked in the open seas, outside of the territorial waters, and on occasion even strike inside territorial waters,” Larsen said.
Several capacity building initiatives have been started in the region since the Yaoundé Code of Conduct was agreed, but the actual security situation in the Gulf of Guinea is still not good. One of the reasons is that other security challenges in the region, such as land-based terrorist threats, generate a high demand for law enforcement resources. In addition to the strain put on seafarers, the current situation negatively impacts the economic potential of the sea of the countries in the region.
“It is time to step up law enforcement efforts, establish control of the sea in the Gulf of Guinea, relieve seafarers from the threat and the psychological pressure, and allow the countries in the region to harvest the full economic potential of the seas,” Larsen said.
“International sea and air law enforcement assets, such as naval ships with helicopters, will be able to deliver a concrete and rapid contribution to the maritime security situation. If such assets were supported by onboard regional law enforcement officials in charge of the law enforcement element, operations could be conducted without infringing on the regional states’ sovereignty.
“While longer term capacity building efforts are commended, what is needed now is substantially more assets at sea and in the air. It is an obvious solution which can deliver the necessary effect with the desired speed, without compromising the territorial integrity of the countries in the region,”