The new Gulf of Guinea Declaration on Suppression of Piracy has been launched on 17 May, with 99 signatories pressing for an end to the attacks on merchant shipping in the region by Nigerian pirates, reports BIMCO.
A group of shipowners convened by BIMCO drafted the Declaration, which has already been signed by maritime companies, organisations and flag States.
Crew kidnappings in Gulf of Guinea
In 2020, 135 crew were kidnapped from their ships globally, with the Gulf of Guinea accounting for over 95% of the crew numbers kidnapped. BIMCO highlights that this has happened in international waters in an area less than 20% of the size of the sea area dominated by Somali pirates a few years ago.
‘We hope that all parties with an interest in a safe Gulf of Guinea will sign this Declaration,’ said Sadan Kaptanoglu, BIMCO president and shipowner.
Carlo Cameli, Chair of BIMCO’s Maritime Safety & Security Committee, commented on the launch of the new Declaration: ‘The root causes of the piracy problem in the Gulf of Guinea can only be solved by Nigeria. An estimated 30 million people live in the Niger Delta, many under difficult conditions, and it would be naïve to think that anyone other than Nigeria can address the roots of the piracy problem.’
‘However, suppressing piracy will help our seafarers, just like it did off Somalia a few years ago. It will also establish security at sea and enable regional blue economies to prosper. Without security there can be no development.’
Need to combat piracy
BIMCO said it welcomed the positive steps taken by regional states, especially Nigeria. However, it suggested that it will take some years before these states can effectively manage the problem.
‘In the interim period the best solution is to have capable military assets from able and willing non-regional states to actively combat piracy in the area in support of the efforts by countries in the region,’ said the shipowners’ organisation.
‘The signatories firmly believe that piracy and attempts at kidnapping are preventable through active anti-piracy operations and that by the end of 2023 the number of attacks by pirates can be reduced by at least 80%.’
During its session from 5 to 14 May 2021, the Maritime Safety Committee of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) discussed Gulf of Guinea piracy. According to BIMCO while the development of related IMO resolutions on the subject is ‘constructive and welcome’, much more needs to be done, particularly in the short term.
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