Shipping Industry launches “Gulf of Guinea Declaration” to combat piracy
The attacks on merchant ships in the Gulf of Guinea by Nigerian pirates must end, said BIMCO. In this regard, the Gulf of Guinea Declaration on Suppression of Piracy, was launched on Monday, 17th May 2020. Nearly 100 organizations, including BIMCO had signed the declaration before it was publicly announced and by day’s end, the count had already risen to more than 120 organizations across the maritime industry, including flag state administrations, shipowners, charterers, and shipping associations.
“We hope that all parties with an interest in a safe Gulf of Guinea will sign this Declaration,” says Sadan Kaptanoglu, BIMCO president and shipowner. In announcing the initiative BIMCO highlighted that 95 percent of the crew that was kidnapped in 2020, a total of 135 people, were taken from ships in the Gulf of Guinea. They noted that the assaults are coming from the Niger Delta and that they are happening in an area less than 20 percent the size of the area where Somali pirates had been active, yet while the international community address the Somali problem it has so far failed to stop these latest assaults on seafarers.
BIMCO maintains that the piracy can be suppressed with as little as two frigates with helicopters and one maritime patrol aircraft to actively patrol the area. As part of this effort, they are calling for non-regional countries to provide the necessary assets on a rotation basis, and that one or more states in the area support the effort with logistics and prosecution of arrested pirates.
BIMCO welcomes the positive steps taken by regional states, especially Nigeria. However, in reality, it will take some years before these states can effectively manage the problem. In the interim period the best solution is to have capable military assets from able and willing non-regional states to actively combat piracy in the area in support of the efforts by countries in the region. The signatories firmly believe that piracy and attempts at kidnapping are preventable through active anti-piracy operations and that by the end of 2023 the number of attacks by pirates can be reduced by at least 80%.
“The root causes of the piracy problem in the Gulf of Guinea can only be solved by Nigeria. An estimated 30 million people live in the Niger Delta, many under difficult conditions, and it would be naïve to think that anyone other than Nigeria can address the roots of the piracy problem. However, suppressing piracy will help our seafarers, just like it did off Somalia a few years ago. It will also establish security at sea and enable regional blue economies to prosper. Without security there can be no development,” says Carlo Cameli, Chair of BIMCO’s Maritime Safety & Security Committee.
During its session from 5 to 14 May 2021, the Maritime Safety Committee of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) discussed Gulf of Guinea piracy. Although development of related IMO resolutions on this topic is constructive and welcome, much more remains to be done, particularly in the short term. The launch of the Gulf of Guinea Declaration on Suppression of Piracy is therefore a timely expression of the maritime industry’s call for further action, through a wide range of collective efforts, to end piracy urgently in the Gulf of Guinea.
A group of shipowners convened by BIMCO drafted the Declaration. The aim 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, on behalf of our seafarers.