Around 100 maritime companies have signed the Gulf of Guinea Declaration on Suppression of Piracy, which was launched mid-last week, as shipping tries to cool the world’s worst hotspot for robberies and ransoms at sea.
In 2020, 135 crew were kidnapped from their ships globally, with the Gulf of Guinea accounting for over 95% of the crew numbers kidnapped. This has happened in international waters in an area less than 20% of the size of the sea area dominated by Somali pirates a decade ago. The pirates launch their attacks from the Niger Delta, where they also subsequently hold their hostages.
“We hope that all parties with an interest in a safe Gulf of Guinea will sign this declaration,” said Sadan Kaptanoglu, BIMCO president and shipowner, who has personally had a ship hijacked and crew kidnapped in the Gulf of Guinea.
BIMCO said in a release that it 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 BIMCO believes 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 to the new declaration 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%.
BIMCO maintains that the piracy can be suppressed with as little as two frigates with helicopters and one maritime patrol aircraft which actively combat piracy in the area.
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.