Gulf of Guinea records low pirate attacks
Gulf of Guinea records low pirate attacks

Gulf of Guinea records low pirate attacks

Pirate and armed robbery activities continue to decrease in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) region, an area which had become a relative hotbed for this crime in recent history.

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The first three months of this year saw a significant decline in the number of recorded piracy and robbery incidents in the region, compared to the same period in 2021 and 2022.

A recent report from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) showed that just five separate incidents of pirate attacks on vessels were reported in the first quarter of 2023 compared to eight recorded in the same period in 2022 and 16 in 2021.

Despite these improvements, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre called for coastal response agencies and international navies to maintain efforts in the region. 

According to the Director of IMB, Michael Howlett, a continued, robust and coordinated regional and international naval presence was crucial to act as a deterrent to prevent and respond to piracy.

“We emphasise the need for continued, robust and coordinated regional and international naval presence to act as a deterrent to prevent and respond to piracy – especially considering nearly 85 per cent of international trade is transported via the sea and it is the seafarers who need to be safeguarded,” he said.

Mr Howlett said the IMB applauds the prompt and decisive actions of the international navies and regional authorities in the Gulf of Guinea, which have positively contributed to the drop in reported incidents and ensured the continued safety of crews and trade.

“Both these latter incidents do, however, cause concern and illustrate that efforts to enhance maritime security in the region must be sustained.

“Masters are also strongly encouraged to follow industry best management practice recommendations in these waters,” he said.

Conditions for piracy

However, GoG presents ‘natural conditions’ for the development of piracy. This region, part of the eastern tropical Atlantic Ocean off the western African coast, spans almost 6,500 kilometres.

It stretches from Guinea-Conakry in the north and includes the coastal areas of Nigeria, Ghana, Sao Tome and Principe, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Benin, Togo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Angola to the south.

 
Ghana concerned

With the recent report in mind, the Minister of Transport, Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, at a forum in Accra, noted that security in the Gulf of Guinea could not be downplayed and for that reason, security agencies would continue to maintain a maritime security presence in the region.

He said piracy, armed robbery at sea, kidnapping of seafarers, illegal fishing, smuggling and trafficking, and transnational organised crime posed a major threat to maritime security in the GoG and ultimately to the economic development of the entire region.

He added that the solution to these issues required stricter security measures to be applied in a concerted manner to address the spectrum of maritime threats, legal complexities and institutional capacity.

 
Global data 

The data again showed the lowest level of reported global piracy and armed robbery incidents since 1993 but calls for continued vigilance and naval response in its first quarter piracy and armed robbery report for all regions in 2023.

The report revealed 27 incidents were reported in the first quarter of the year, representing a marked decline from 37 incidents for the same period in 2022.

Of the 27 incidents, perpetrators boarded the victims' vessels in 24 cases, two vessels reported attempted incidents and one vessel was hijacked. 

Despite the drop in numbers, the threat of violence remains – six crew kidnapped, two were taken hostage, two were threatened and one was assaulted.

Singapore Straits

Almost 30 per cent of the first three months of 2023 incidents occurred in the Singapore Straits, with eight recorded cases – a decrease from the 15 incidents reported in quarter one of 2022. 

While incidents in this region tend to be cases of petty theft, the threat of violence remains a worrisome possibility, with knives sighted and reported in two of the incidents.

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South America

About 33 per cent of global incidents occurred in South America, with Callao anchorage, Peru remaining an area of particular concern. 

Five reported incidents occurred there in quarter one of 2023, a number which has remained steady in recent years. Crew, however, continued to be at risk with two crew taken hostage and one each assaulted and threatened.

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