Pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa should be reduced by at least 80% by the end of 2023.
This is the concrete and highly ambitious goal in a new declaration from a broad section of the international shipping industry which has just been published. The declaration is being coordinated by the international shipping company organisation, BIMCO, and Danish Shipping together with a large number of shipping companies, organisations and flag states have already joined as co-signatories.
From Denmark, AP Moller-Maersk, TORM, DS Norden and Maersk Tankers have so far joined.
Anne H. Steffensen, CEO of Danish Shipping, says:
“We are facing an acute security problem in the Gulf of Guinea, and the international community needs to act if we are to reduce the number of attacks on the merchant navy and the kidnapping of seafarers in the area. Denmark will be making a very large contribution by sending a frigate down there in the autumn, but we still need to see the same tangible support from other countries.
“Whether you represent a shipping company, are a customer, an authority or anything else connected with shipping in the Gulf of Guinea, I would encourage you to support this declaration. We must create the greatest possible international awareness of the problems in the Gulf of Guinea in order to create the greatest possible safety for our seafarers. We owe it to them.”
The attacks are particularly prevalent in the area south of Nigeria, and although the coastal states must be part of the solution in the long run, the international community needs to contribute to security here and now.
BIMCO estimates that two frigates with helicopters and one aircraft can ensure the necessary patrolling.
“I hope that with this call we can get more countries to speak out and get more people to take on their share of the security task. Denmark cannot take this big task on alone, so more people both in and outside the region must follow suit. Otherwise, creating better security for seafarers in the area will just happen too slowly,” says Anne H. Steffensen.
More than 95% of all kidnappings at sea happened last year in the Gulf of Guinea.
Facts about the Gulf of Guinea
- A total of 130 kidnappings* were recorded in 2020, the highest number the International Maritime Bureau has ever seen in the area.
- In 2019, 121 kidnappings* were registered in the Gulf of Guinea, and in 2018 there were 78 kidnappings*.
- In addition, there have been a large number of incidents where ships have been attacked and pirates may have come on board, but where the crews were not kidnapped.
- In January 2021, MAERSK CARDIFF was attacked south of Nigeria.
- In December 2020, MAERSK CADIZ was attacked by pirates in almost the same place.
- In November 2020, TORM ALEXANDRA was attacked.
- In all three cases, the crews fortunately escaped physically unharmed from the incidents with the help of Nigerian and Italian warships.
- The Danish Defence Intelligence Service writes in the latest risk assessment for 2020, inter alia, that the underlying causes of piracy are not expected to change positively in the short to medium term. Nor do they expect Nigeria and the other countries to be able to intervene effectively against the pirates.
* Kidnappings calculated by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB)