The notorious pirates off the coast of West Africa would target tanker cargoes rather than crews.
However, thanks to the improved naval patrolling (by the Nigerian and other littoral navies), it has rendered cargo theft more difficult and dangerous.
Cargo theft takes time. So, criminals have moved to a crime where less time is spent on board vessels and leaves them less exposed to naval patrols – this is the kidnap for ransom of ships’ crews.
It is quite probable that the drop in oil prices has made oil theft a less lucrative proposition than kidnapping for ransom.
These observations were put forth in a press briefing issued by Stuart Edmonston, head of loss prevention at UK P&I Club, together with Hellenic War Risks and Terra Firma Risk Management.
The Gulf of Guinea is understood to be the most dangerous region in the world for seafarers.
A report by Oceans Beyond Piracy states that there have been 32 kidnaps for ransom during 2016 in the Gulf of Guinea, surpassing the total number of incidents, 19, recorded by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) for 2015.
Further, the IMB itself has recorded 10 incidents in the Gulf of Guinea in the first quarter of 2016, and the kidnap of 16 seafarers. Since April 2015, the Merchant Trade Information Sharing Centre for the Gulf of Guinea recorded 56 incidents in the area and the kidnap of 35 seafarers.
The kidnapping events are not sudden developments. In 2014, 16% of attacks in the area involved kidnap for ransom In 2015, it was 28& of attacks.
The warning states:
“The costs of protecting vessels in the region are well known and the threat of kidnap in the Gulf of Guinea is unlikely to disappear or decrease significantly in the next year or so. Consequently, attacks on vessels and the kidnapping of seafarers in the region may have a further impact on business. Owners and crewing agencies may find it increasingly hard to crew ships in these waters, especially with nationalities that have the appropriate experience, languages and skills set.”
Did you subscribe for our daily newsletter?
It’s Free! Click here to Subscribe!
Source: UK P&I