The European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA) announced that they are concerned about the continued piracy, armed robbery attacks and kidnapping for ransom events in the Gulf of Guinea, and particularly off Nigeria.
According to the latest International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy report, in total, 33 vessels were boarded and four fired upon in the first three months of 2017 worldwide. During the same period, of the 27 seafarers kidnapped for ransom, 63% were in the Gulf of Guinea.
In its Global Maritime Security Conclusions adopted 19 June, the Environment Council recognised the problematic situation in the Gulf of Guinea. It underlined the need for regional states to take ownership and adapt their legal systems in order to fight piracy.
The Council also welcomed bilateral initiatives of EU Member States in the region and advocated the need to coordinate them with ongoing EU initiatives.
“The continued problems in the Gulf of Guinea create serious concerns about the security of seafarers sailing in that area”, commented Patrick Verhoeven, ECSA Secretary General. “Maritime insecurity also disrupts trade flows and has a direct impact on the ability of ports to serve as hubs for parts of the continent. A poor security situation also imposes high costs on imports and exports and put jobs and economic activity at risk”, he concluded.
ECSA encourages several measures in order to improve the security situation in the Gulf of Guinea. These measures include:
- The proper protection by coastal states: National coastal states should ensure safety and security at anchoring places, transfer places and coastal waters.
- The investigation of the potential use of Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel (PCASP) by the owners: This will allow ships to embark armed guards under specific conditions and prerequisites respecting the UNCLOS provisions as well as the requirements imposed by the respective national legislation
- The prosecution of piracy and armed robbery: Supporting effective judicial systems to be in place. Besides, the EU could, for instance, in cooperation with the United Nations of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) assist the countries in developing national legislation against piracy.
- The establishment of effective judicial systems, good coordination of law enforcement assets and an efficient and well working reporting and coordination system to respond to incidents.
- Initiatives on capacity building: For instance, through technical assistance in areas such as ship maintenance and repair and through sharing of best practices. One such example is the launch and implementation of the Gulf of Guinea Inter-regional Network (GoGIN), as it aims to facilitate the cooperation between the 19 GoG coastal countries by setting up an effective and technically efficient network for the exchange of information and further coordination.
- Promoting of maritime training and local maritime know how: African partners are encouraged to be aligned with international standards (IMO, STCW recognition) and be ready to promote this process.
- Urge of EU Member States to actively contribute to the maritime security outside the territorial waters in cooperation with regional states and coordinate the deployment of naval vessels.