EUROPEAN ship owners have expressed worry over the increasing rate of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, urging policy makers to undertake concrete action to protect shipping through the region.
The latest International Maritime Bureau (IMB)’s Piracy & Armed Robbery Report demonstrates that the Gulf of Guinea has become increasingly dangerous for seafarers.
In the first nine months of 2019, the region accounts for 86% of the 49 crew taken hostage and 82% of the 70 crew kidnapped globally.
“The perilous circumstances in the Gulf of Guinea raise alarm bells for the safety and security of seafarers sailing through that area,” Martin Dorsman, European Community Shipowners Association (ECSA) Secretary General, commented.
“The threats are also putting at risk trade and development both in the region and globally. It is time EU member states step up their efforts to strengthen maritime security in the Gulf.”
ECSA members outlined a range of measures that could be taken to improve the current situation. These include engagement of the EU with the Gulf of Guinea governments in order to find a solution on the ground, an active contribution of the EU member states to the maritime security outside the territorial waters and the union’s support for coastal states on issues such as judicial systems, strengthening of the local coast guards and promotion of maritime training.
The ECSA call echoes concerns expressed earlier this year at a symposium on maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea held at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) head office in London.
Speakers at the event emphasized the region was starting to build capacity and joint cooperation to fight maritime crime through the Yaoundé Process, which focuses on joint cooperation across the region for reporting and response.