The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has called upon the international community to support Nigeria in its fight against piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
In a statement released after the ICS Board meeting in London, Esben Poulsson, the Chairman of the ICS, said seafarers “have the right to operate free from the fear of kidnap or capture”.
Seafarer kidnappings in the Gulf of Guinea increased by 50% in 2019 and the region accounts for 90% of reported seizures globally. The majority of these take place within Nigeria’s territorial waters.
According to the ICS, pirates are “bolder and taking greater number of hostages” and that “levels of violence are high and deaths have occurred both during attacks and captivity of seafarers and military personnel”.
In early 2020 four seafarers were killed in an attack on a vessel in the Gulf of Guinea, a story Port Technology International reported on.
Nigeria has sought to stem the problem of piracy in the region through initiatives such as the Deep Blue Project, to improve security across its coastline.
While the ICS welcomes these measures, it has said the wider industry and international community needs to do more to assist.
“We welcome efforts of the Nigerian Navy to respond to reported incidents of piracy by dispatching patrol boats,” Poulsson said.
“However, the spike in incidents indicates in 2019 and this year has shown just how far away we are from solving this endemic issue.
“The declining rate of piracy incidents elsewhere reinforces the importance of communication and coordination between vessels and authorities.
“The more information national governments and relevant authorities have on piracy trends, the stronger piracy prevention efforts will be.
“The shipping industry is ready and willing to work with all parties to bring an end to this endemic blight to free trade.”