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IMB warns, Gulf of Guinea still at risk of piracy

By Adaku Onyenucheya
20 April 2022   |   2:49 am
The ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has warned that the Gulf of Guinea remains at risk of piracy attacks and crew kidnappings despite the decline in incidents.

[FILES] Nigerian special forces in a broad range of operations to increase capability and capacity to respond, check piracy, illicit trafficking, and other maritime threats in the Gulf of Guinea. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

The ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has warned that the Gulf of Guinea remains at risk of piracy attacks and crew kidnappings despite the decline in incidents.

Disclosing this in its latest global piracy report, IMB said seafarers in West African water are at risk following reports of armed robberies within the anchorage waters of Angola and Ghana as well as the hijacking of a product tanker off the coast of Ivory Coast in which all 17 crew were taken hostage within the first quarter of 2022.

According to the International piracy reporting centre, although, the Gulf of Guinea saw a decline in the number of reported incidents, the seven incidents that happened this first quarter of the year raise fear of imminent attacks.

The centre also noted that the first three months of 2022 saw 37 incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea worldwide, compared to the 38 incidents over the same period last year.

It stated that of the number of incidents recorded during the first quarter of 2022, 41 per cent occurred in Southeast Asian waters, particularly in the Singapore Straits, which it said is becoming the most dangerous for commercial shipping.

The IMB noted that four incidents were reported off the coasts of Indonesia and Malaysia, compared to two over the same period in 2021.

According to IMB, Peruvian waters are an area of concern, noting that the South American nation’s ports accounted for 27 per cent of global incidents, with 10 reported events. Six in the Callao anchorage compared to five incidents during the same period last year and only one in 2019.

The centre stated that three incidents were also reported in Macapa anchorage off the coast of Brazil, in which seafarers were threatened with knives, taken hostage and tied up with their faces covered with burlap for the duration of the incident.

The centre noted that although no incidents were reported in the Gulf of Aden, the threat of piracy still exists on Yemeni and Somali coasts as well as the waters of the Southern Red Sea.

The IMB Director, Michael Howlett, acknowledged the efforts taken by maritime authorities in the Gulf of Guinea region as well as the regional and international navies towards the reduction of reported incidents.

“Perpetrators are armed in most incidents, putting crews at risk even in the low-level opportunistic incidents. Coastal states and independent international navies are urged to increase efforts to identify and apprehend these criminals to enhance maritime security and facilitate safer trade across these important and strategic waterways,” Howlett noted.