International Maritime Bureau highlights Gulf of Guinea attacks
According to the International Maritime Bureau of the International Chamber of Commerce, the growing number of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea drove an increase in worldwide piracy figures in 2020.
In 2020, 195 incidents of piracy and armed robbery worldwide were registered by the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC), up from 162 in 2019. The rise was attributed to an increase in recorded piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea, as well as increased armed robbery activities in the Singapore Straits.
The trend is especially troubling because the Gulf of Guinea is recognized as the worldwide epicenter of the most destructive form of piracy - the abduction for ransom of crewmembers.
Last year, 95 percent of all maritime abduction incidents took place in the area, involving 130 crew members in 22 separate attacks.
According to IMB, one record-setting kidnapping attack occurred nearly 200 nautical miles from land, and the average kidnapping occurred within 60 nm offshore.
Last year, only five crew members were abducted in all other areas of the world combined.
Incidents in the Gulf of Guinea also come with an elevated risk because, according to IMB, about 80 percent of attackers are armed with weapons. In this area, all three vessel hijackings and nine of the 11 incidents in which vessels came under fire occurred.
“The latest statistics confirm the increased capabilities of pirates in the Gulf of Guinea with more and more attacks taking place further from the coast. This is a worrying trend that can only be resolved through increased information exchange and coordination between vessels, reporting and response agencies in the Gulf of Guinea Region," said Michael Howlett, Director of the ICC International Maritime Bureau.
Given the risk to crew members, the IMB recommends that vessels be held at least 250 nm from shore in this area at all times, at least until the vessel is able to transit directly to a secure berth or anchorage.
Maritime Business World