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IMB warns against danger in GoG as Nigeria records zero piracy in 2022

By Adaku Onyenucheya
01 March 2023   |   3:10 am
The International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC) has warned that the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) is still dangerous despite the recent positive piracy trend.

Armed Nigerian naval officers lead pirates away from a courtroom at The Federal High Court in Lagos, after being convicted for hijacking a Chinese fishing vessel ship FV Hailufeng II in the Gulf of Guinea in 2020. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

• Ghana, Angola top West Africa list
The International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC) has warned that the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) is still dangerous despite the recent positive piracy trend.

The International body, in its latest yearly report, stated that the two vessels hijacked in 2022, with 29 crew held hostage and another vessel fired upon while steaming, demonstrates that the threat to innocent seafarers remains in these waters.

The body also stated that the number of incidents reported from the region in 2022 decreased by 46 per cent compared to 2021 and by a factor of four compared to 2020. While crew kidnappings also decreased from 57 crew members taken in seven separate incidents in 2021 to two crew members taken in a single incident in 2022.

According to the body, while Nigeria recorded no incidents in 2022, Ghana and Angola have risen to the top of the list of West African countries reporting piracy incidents.

The body noted that in GoG in 2022, more than two-thirds of the incidents occurred, while ships were anchored or berthed, just as Takoradi Anchorage in Ghana and Luanda Anchorage in Angola, were both included in the IMB PRC’s list of worldwide “Ports and anchorages with three or more reported incidents in 2022.”

According to the body, it is also worth noting that South Africa and Egypt made their first appearance in the IMB PRC’ yearly report in more than six years.

The body also recognised the decline in global piracy and armed robbery numbers in 2022, just as it attributed the decline in GoG to the increased presence of naval vessels and cooperation between coastal authorities that continues to positively impact the piratical activity reported in that region.

The body’s latest yearly report shows a 13 per cent drop in overall attacks in 2022 compared to 2021, a reduction that is primarily attributed to the decrease in piratical activity in the waters of GoG.

“The level of threat from piracy and armed robbery at sea, as well as the opportunity for and modus operandi of the perpetrators, differs from one region to another and may also change quickly. Before entering any piracy-prone area, it is important to obtain updated information from local sources and security experts, review the ship security plan in light of the information received, conduct a voyage-specific risk assessment, brief and train the crew and prepare and test the ship’s emergency communication plans,” the body stated.

IMB PRC advised that relevant preventive measures must be adopted following available industry guidance and best management practices (BMP), warning that the potential consequences of not following industry best practices may be severe when transiting areas prone to piracy.

“As ships may be particularly vulnerable when at anchor, ship masters and crew should exercise extra vigilance when staying at high-risk ports/anchorages. Remember that a proper lookout is considered one of the most effective methods of ship protection. It can help identify a suspicious approach or attack at an early stage, allowing defenses to be deployed,” the body noted.