EFFORTS to eliminate piracy in the Gulf of Guinea have ramped up with the launch of a new strategy devised by industry and Nigerian authorities.
Launched by the Nigerian government and a coalition of shipping stakeholders, the strategy sets up a mechanism to regularly assess the effectiveness of counter-piracy initiatives in the GoG, a global piracy hotspot.
The coalition includes the International Chamber of Shipping, BIMCO, Intertanko, the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) and Intercargo.
The coalition will be working alongside the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Maritime Administration & Safety Agency (NIMASA).
The strategy is targeted at all stakeholders operating in the region and will aim to identify areas needing improvement and reinforcement to eliminate piracy, armed robbery and kidnapping.
According to BIMCO, the plan is to split into two mutually supportive sections of action, namely those which can be overseen by the Nigerian Industry Working Group and those which require engagement with other regional and international partners.
The coalition hopes that, but eliminating piracy in the region, they will be able to secure trade routes, reassure traversing crews and support local communities.
The International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Center reported an overall drop in global piracy during 2021, however threat levels in the GoG remain high.
BIMCO said piracy activity in the region has posed a severe threat to seafarers and local communities for over a decade. In 2020, 40% of piracy attacks and 95% of crew kidnappings occurred in the region alone.
However, attacks reportedly decreased by 60% last year following the establishment of an anti-piracy project called Deep Blue. It coincided with the increase of international counter-piracy operations in the area.
NIMASA director general Bashir Jamoh said collaboration with state and non-state actors and the maritime industry have highlighted areas where improvements can be made.
“This strategy is an important step in codifying joint efforts to sustain maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea. It will be an important tool to monitor our progress,” he said.
ICS secretary general Guy Platten sid the agreement of the strategy demonstrates a strong relationship between the shipping industry and Nigeria and a shared commitment to eradicate piracy in the GoG.
“The strategy is already identifying successes and areas in which further improvement will continue to reduce the capability of pirates to attack innocent seafarers in the region,” he said.
And Katharina Stanzel, managing director of Intertanko, said the agreement on the new strategy marks a significant point in the fight against piracy and insecurity in the region.
“Seafarers have borne this burden for too long and this agreed strategy, with its associated KPIs will assist in making their time on ships in the area safer and more secure,” she said.