THREE of the biggest flag states, many shipowner companies, major shipping associations, regional companies and the World Economic Forum have signed on to support the Gulf of Guinea Declaration on Suppression of Piracy.

A group of shipowners convened by BIMCO drafted the declaration on 17 May. The aim of the document is to speak plainly about the piracy problem in the Gulf of Guinea and get all the stakeholders involved to address the real problems with effective solutions to protect seafarers.

BIMCO secretary general and CEO David Loosley said, “As we watch the number of signatures to the Gulf of Guinea Declaration on Suppression of Piracy grow, so does our hope that seafarers can look forward to no longer fearing for their lives when doing their job”.

The number of signatures on the document currently stands at 342.

The World Economic Forum signed on, stressing the obligation for leaders to keep people and goods moving safely.

World Economic Forum head of supply chain and transport Margi Van Gogh said supply system resilience is directly impacted by maritime activities with seafarers playing a vital role enabling global trade.

“Collaboration across the private and public sector is imperative for assuring the safety, well-being and human rights of those responsible for moving the essential goods and food we all rely on,” she said.

“Keeping people and goods moving safely is an obligation for leaders across the value chain and requires governments and the private sector to act decisively to protect seafarers. The Forum applauds all collective action to protect the safety, and assure the wellbeing of our seafarers, and indeed all essential transport workers serving us across the globe.”

Container shipping group MSC and the Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry are among those supporting the declaration and its purpose.

MSC executive vice-president, maritime policy and government affairs Bud Darr said, piracy in the Gulf of Guinea affects seafarers of many nationalities and companies from all over the world.

“Robust involvement in counter piracy and associated law enforcement by international maritime forces, working side by side with local forces, is essential to addressing this situation,” he said.

“Only through international co-operation can we create the necessary deterrent against pirate operations at sea, both near and far from the camps in the Niger Delta. By signing the declaration, we all say out loud that there continues to be a serious problem and that we must see an end to these crimes.”

In 2020, 135 crew were kidnapped from their ships globally, with the Gulf of Guinea accounting for more than 95% of the crew numbers kidnapped. The signatories of the declaration firmly believe that by the end of 2023 the number of attacks by pirates can be reduced by at least 80%.

Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry COO Alfonso Castillero said, “This declaration is a much-needed input to the discussion about Gulf of Guinea piracy. We need to be frank and open about the problems. If we fail to take into consideration all relevant factors, we will end up reaching the wrong conclusions about how to address these problems. I encourage all other flag states to follow Liberia and the industry on this initiative.”