BIMCO (Baltic and International Maritime Council) on Monday the 17th of May announced a joint venture by various stakeholders and entities from across the global maritime industry in the form of the Gulf of Guinea Declaration on the Suppression of piracy against increased incidents of large scale piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
The issue of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is a pressing issue for the entire maritime industry because of the explicitly high losses incurred to business and the increasing human toll that accompany these attacks and the severity of the problem has brought together the global shipping industry with more than 120 organizations and entities ranging from ship owners to authorities of flag states to several shipping associations signing the declaration.
The Gulf of Guinea is referred to as the piracy hotspot of the world. The region accounts for more than 43% of global piracy incidents in the first three months of 2021 with an alarming rise in violence against the crew. The Gulf of Guinea accounted for all the 40 crew kidnappings in the first quarter of 2021 compared to 22 in 2020.
The declaration was drafted by a group of ship owners convened by BIMCO with a strong resolution of stopping the attack by the Nigerian pirates on merchant navy ships in the Gulf of Guinea with effective solutions provided by all the stakeholders of the industry. The declaration was signed by more than 100 organizations even before it was publically announced.
BIMCO along with the declaration also released a report which strongly condemned the attacks terming them as 'unacceptable' and highlighted the fact that attacks by pirates have been occurring in less than 20% area of the Niger delta and can easily be combated with heightened vigilance and patrols.
The declaration acknowledged that it does not aim to provide a long-term solution but rather render safety to seafarers today. BIMCO strongly believes that piracy in the Gulf of Guinea can be dealt with in the easiest possible way by actively patrolling the region and combating the pirates with the help of two frigates, helicopters, and one maritime patrol aircraft.
BIMCO seeks increased cooperation amongst the regional and non-regional countries to effectively execute the solution. The body believes that an increased contribution by non-regional countries by providing logistics and patrolling vessels, equipment, and assets on a rotational basis along with a regional nation helping in prosecuting the culprits can efficiently suppress piracy in the region.
The declaration suggests that with immediate implementation of the plan a massive 80% decrease in piracy-related incidents can be witnessed by the end of 2023. It also appreciated the efforts being taken by IMO to deal with the situation but believes that it is time that industry contributes more to the safety of its seafarers.
The declaration emphasizes the fact that the root cause of the piracy problem in the Gulf of Guinea can only be addressed by the state of Nigeria and acknowledges the steps taken by it. Mr. Carlo Cameli, Chair of BIMCO’s Maritime Safety & Security Committee said, "BIMCO welcomes the positive steps taken by regional states, especially Nigeria."
But the industry body believes that it might take some time for governments and authorities to resolve this problem and address its cause which is why a major security intervention like the one proposed is required which shall ultimately support the efforts of regional countries to combat piracy and help blue economies prosper in the region.
Sadan Kaptanoglu, BIMCO president and ship owner during the release said, “We hope that all parties with an interest in the safe Gulf of Guinea will sign this Declaration." And the declaration is already getting an optimistic outlook from across the globe with several countries extending support as the Danish government has offered to deploy a frigate for five months from the fall of 2021 and has called upon other European countries to join the venture.
If effective, the 'Gulf of Guinea declaration on the suppression of piracy' can turn out to be a miracle for the safety of the crew and the business at sea.