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IMO calls for redoubled efforts to combat West African piracy

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Spanish Navy boarding party comes to the assistance of the heavy lift ship Blue Marlin after a pirate attack in the Gulf of Guinea, 2019 (Estado Mayor de la Defensa) Image and article courtesy maritime-executive.com

The global maritime community is calling for enhanced efforts to tackle the rising menace of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea with the adoption of new IMO resolutions on increased collaboration.

The resolutions adopted at a meeting of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) safety committee are centered on the need to strengthen law enforcement, arrest and prosecute pirates and provide security escorts for vessels.

The IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) also wants member states, international organizations and relevant stakeholders to contribute financially to its West and Central Africa Maritime Security Trust Fund, whose objective is to assist states in the Gulf of Guinea to develop their national and regional capabilities to improve maritime security.

“The resolution highlights the need for greater collaboration with all critical stakeholders, including information-sharing on maritime criminality and illegality,” said IMO in a statement.

The push for deeper global collaboration comes just days after more than 120 organizations across the maritime industry launched the Gulf of Guinea Declaration on the Suppression of Piracy. The declaration is geared to improving security of West African waters, which have become the most dangerous in the world for seafarers and shipping.

IMO reports indicate that this year, 23 piracy-related incidents have been reported in the West African region. At this rate, the number of incidents could surpass the 90 attacks that occurred last year, which resulted in a total of 112 crew members reported as kidnapped or missing. The high rate of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea represented a significant proportion of the total 226 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships that occurred or attempted in 2020 globally.

To tackle the increasing menace in the Gulf of Guinea, IMO intends to deploy technical cooperation funds to support capacity-building in the region, aiming to tackle piracy and armed robbery and to look at creating a common platform for information-sharing. 

The international community has in recent times faced criticism for lack of proactive measures and actions to address the piracy problem in the region. British security intelligence firm Dryad Global in its 2021 annual report accused large international organizations such as the United Nations, The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and The European Union (EU) of being conspicuously absent in offering tangible solutions to piracy in West Africa.

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