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‘Maritime powers should curb piracy in West Africa’

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Worried by the lingering insecurity of ships and crew on the West African waters, international ship owners, under the auspice of Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), have called for more collaboration with maritime powers to combat the lingering sea pirates in the Gulf of Guinea.
   
BIMCO, in its latest report said maritime powers, such as the European Union, China, and United States should increase their presence, and expand their collaboration with the West African countries to curb piracy in the troubled Gulf of Guinea.
  
According to the report, about 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.
   
BIMCO Head, Maritime Security, Jakob Larsen, said: “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.”
 
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.
  
Despite the efforts of regional navies to fight maritime crimes, Larsen said: “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.”
  
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 added.

BIMCO explained that international sea and air law enforcement assets, such as naval ships with helicopters, would be able to deliver a concrete and rapid contribution to the maritime security situation.
  
“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,” Larsen concluded.
 
The ICC International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre had earlier estimated that the Gulf of Guinea accounted for 57 of the 156 reported incidents in the first nine months of 2018.
  
While most of these incidents have been reported in and around Nigeria, where 41 of the reported incident took place, there has also been a noticeable increase in the number of vessels boarded at the Takoradi anchorage, in Ghana.
  
The IMB noted that 37 of the 39 crew kidnappings for ransom taking place around the world have occurred in the Gulf of Guinea region, in seven separate incidents.


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