A global maritime body has said the Gulf of Guinea continues to be particularly dangerous for seafarers and urged vessels to remain vigilant as they transit the region amid persistent piracy risk in West Africa in the first three months.
The latest report by the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau(IMB) reaching Xinhua on Thursday shows that the Gulf of Guinea accounted for 43 percent of all reported piracy incidents in the first three months of 2021.
According to the report, the region accounted for all 40 kidnapped crew incidents, as well as the sole crew fatality, highlighting the high risks in this area.
The IMB’s latest global piracy report recorded 38 incidents since the start of 2021, compared with 47 incidents during the same period in 2020.
In the first three months of 2021, the IMB Piracy Reporting Center reported 33 vessels boarded, two attempted attacks, two vessels fired upon and one vessel hijacked.
Despite a drop in the number of reported piracy incidents for the first quarter of 2021, violence against crew is on the rise in comparison to previous years.
According to IMB, 40 crew have been kidnapped compared to 22 crew in the first three months of 2020, noting that a crew member was also killed in the first three months of 2021.
“Pirates operating within the Gulf of Guinea are well-equipped to attack further away from shorelines and are unafraid to take violent action against innocent crews,” said Michael Howlett, director of IMB, in the report.
“It’s critical that seafarers remain cautious and vigilant when traveling in nearby waters and report all incidents to the Regional Authorities and the IMB. Only improved knowledge sharing channels and increased collaboration between maritime response authorities will reduce the risk to seafarers in the region,” Howlett added.
According to the report, the furthest recorded kidnapping occurred on March 11, 2021, when pirates kidnapped 15 crew from a Maltese flagged Chemical Tanker, 212 nautical miles south of Cotonou, Benin.
In another incident, a fishing vessel hijacked on February 8, 2021 was used by pirates as a mother vessel to facilitate other attacks, the report said.