European shipowners have called on governments to do more to prevent the rise of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, most particularly off Nigeria.
The European Community Shipowners' Associations (ECSA) says that according to the latest International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy report, 33 vessels were boarded and four fired upon in the first three months of 2017 worldwide. During the same period, of the 27 seafarers kidnapped for ransom, 63 percent were in the Gulf of Guinea.
According to the ICC International Maritime Bureau data, there was a noticeable increase in the number of reported incidents off Nigeria in 2016 (36 compared to 14 in 2015). There were 54 attacks in the Gulf of Guinea.
In its Global Maritime Security Conclusions adopted 19 June, the E.U. Environment Council recognized the problematic situation in the Gulf of Guinea and underlined the need for regional states to take ownership and adapt their legal systems in order to fight piracy.
ECSA would like to see several measures taken including proper protection by coastal states, investigation of the potential use of private maritime security guards by shipowners and the establishment of effective judicial systems.
National coastal states should ensure safety and security at anchoring places, transfer places and coastal waters. As the use of armed guards in the territorial waters of the Gulf of Guinea littoral states is not permitted due to national legal restrictions, initiatives should be undertaken to explore possibilities for the conclusion of an agreement between the E.U. and its member states with the Gulf of Guinea littoral states aiming at the permission of the use of private security guards by E.U.-flagged vessels calling at their ports.
Piracy and armed robbery should be recognized as crimes and prosecuted. Supporting effective judicial systems need to be in place, and the E.U. could, in cooperation with the United Nations of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), assist the countries in developing national legislation against piracy.
Information sharing and transparency about the situation in the maritime security domain should be available through trusted reporting centers.
An efficient and well working reporting and coordination system to respond to incidents is also required. Initiatives could focus on providing technical assistance in areas such as ship maintenance and repair and through sharing of best practices. One such example is the launch and implementation of the Gulf of Guinea Inter-regional Network (GoGIN), as it aims to facilitate the cooperation between the 19 Gulf of Guinea coastal countries by setting up an effective and technically efficient network for the exchange of information and further coordination.
ECSA also encourages E.U. member states to actively contribute to the maritime security outside the territorial waters in cooperation with regional states and coordinate the deployment of naval vessels.