Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea
Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea affects a number of countries in West Africa as well as the wider international community. By 2011, it had become an issue of global concern. Pirates in the Gulf of Guinea are often part of heavily armed criminal enterprises, who employ violent methods to steal oil cargo. In 2012, the International Maritime Bureau, Oceans Beyond Piracy and the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Program reported that the number of vessels attacks by West African pirates had reached a world high, with 966 seafarers attacked during the year. According to the Control Risks Group, pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea had by mid-November 2013 maintained a steady level of around 100 attempted hijackings in the year, a close second behind Southeast Asia.
Piracy on the rise in the Gulf of Guinea
The International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) Piracy Reporting Center has once again identified Nigerian waters as being extremely dangerous. According to figures available for the first three months of 2018, Nigeria alone recorded 22 incidents since the beginning of January. Of the 11 vessels fired upon worldwide, eight were off Nigeria — including a tanker more than 40 nautical miles off Brass, in Bayelsa state in the Niger Delta, with a capacity of 300,000 metric tons.
In 2017, the IMB reported over 20 attacks on vessels in the same area.
According to the IMB, pirates in the Gulf of Guinea target all kinds of vessels. Crews from fishing and refrigerated cargo vessels, or even oil tankers, have been taken hostage or kidnapped. The bureau says it is working with national and regional authorities in the Gulf to provide support to ships and coordinate anti-piracy measures.
IMB piracy report 2018: attacks multiply in the Gulf of Guinea
Piracy increased on the world’s seas in 2018, with a marked rise in attacks against ships and crews around West Africa, the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) latest annual piracy report reveals.
Worldwide, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) recorded 201 incidents of maritime piracy and armed robbery in 2018, up from 180 in 2017.
The Gulf of Guinea remains increasingly dangerous for seafarers. Reports of attacks in waters between the Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo more than doubled in 2018, accounting for all six hijackings worldwide, 13 of the 18 ships fired upon, 130 of the 141 hostages taken globally, and 78 of 83 seafarers kidnapped for ransom.
The region saw a significant new spike in violence in the last quarter of 2018. Vessels have been boarded by pirates well outside territorial waters, with crew kidnapped and taken into Nigeria where they are held for ransom.