IMO urges for action to deter piracy in Gulf of Guinea
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is calling for urgent action to deter piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
The urgency of the situation has been underlined by the attack on the container ship Mozart on 23 January 2021, which resulted in a fatality and the kidnapping of 15 seafarers.
The seafarers have been rescued after the shipowner paid for the ransom to the pirates. Recounting their captivity, the seafarers pointed to grueling conditions while being kept in a forest under constant threat of being killed if their company fails to pay for ransom.
The escalating situation led to a record 130 crew members being kidnapped in 22 separate incidents in the GoG in 2020.
IMO said that it intends to convene a maritime security working group focusing on the Gulf of Guinea at the next session of the Maritime Safety Committee, MSC 103, scheduled to take place in May 2021.
This will provide an opportunity for Member States and international organizations to discuss further collaboration and possible action to address the existing problems.
“The Secretary-General wishes to express his deep concern about the escalation in the number and severity of attacks in the Gulf of Guinea region which threaten the lives of our seafarers and the safety of shipping in the region,” IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim.
IMO said it was taking action to enhance the coordination of initiatives among stakeholders, including facilitating meetings with representatives of the industry, the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Interregional Coordination Centre (ICC).
The Organization is currently working with the Interregional Coordination Centre (ICC) to assist with the implementation of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct (YCC), a regional code aimed at enhancing maritime security and addressing piracy, armed robbery against ships, illegal fishing and other illicit maritime activity.
Companies like Maersk have also been calling for the establishment of a naval mission to the Gulf of Guinea to bring an end to terrorizing of seafarers while crossing the area.
In response to the increasing calls from the shipping industry to bolster security in the region, the European Union is also working on launching the first pilot case of the Coordinated Maritime Presences (CMP) concept in the Gulf of Guinea.
The CMP would support efforts by the coastal states and the organisations of the Yaoundé Architecture to address increasing security challenges such as armed piracy and kidnapping for ransom.