BIMCO calls for Gulf of Guinea counter-piracy support operations

Jan 11 2019

The EU, China, and the US must step up their support of counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Guinea, BIMCO has warned.

Around 40 ships have been attacked in the Gulf of Guinea in the past 12 months and only this week, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre reported attempted attacks on tankers off Nigeria, both of which were thwarted.

“We look towards the EU, China and the US to join forces and deploy naval capacity in the Gulf of Guinea to end this constant threat to seafarers,“ Jakob Larsen, BIMCO Head of Maritime Security, said.

In the 2013 Yaoundé Code of Conduct, states in the Gulf of Guinea recognised that piracy constituted an issue and initiated several initiatives to strengthen maritime security. It was inspired by the United Nations’ Security Council Resolution 2018 (2011) and 2039 (2012) and contains several initiatives to strengthen maritime security in the area.

“BIMCO remains very thankful to the regional navies who are working tirelessly and with great sacrifice to secure their seas,” Larsen added. “While these efforts command our deepest respect, pirates in the Gulf of Guinea can still operate largely unchecked in the open seas, outside of the territorial waters, and on occasion even strike inside territorial waters.” 

Several capacity building initiatives have been started in the region since the Code was agreed, but the actual security situation in the Gulf of Guinea is still not good. One of the reasons is that other security challenges in the region, such as land-based terrorist threats, generate a high demand for law enforcement resources,Larsen explained.

In addition to the strain put on seafarers, the current situation negatively impacts the economic potential of the sea of the countries in the region.

“It is time to step up law enforcement efforts, establish control of the sea in the Gulf of Guinea, relieve seafarers from the threat and the psychological pressure, and allow the countries in the region to harvest the full economic potential of the seas,” Larsen stressed.

International sea and air law enforcement assets, such as naval ships with helicopters, will be able to deliver a concrete and rapid contribution to the maritime security situation. If these assets were supported by on board regional law enforcement officials in charge of the law enforcement element, operations could be conducted without infringing on the regional states’ sovereignty.

“While longer term capacity building efforts are commended, what is needed now is substantially more assets at sea and in the air. It is an obvious solution which can deliver the necessary effect with the desired speed, without compromising the territorial integrity of the countries in the region,” Larsen concluded.


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