The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has called for continued caution among member states following the reported decrease in incidents of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea region in the first quarter of the year.
According to IMB’s first-quarter report, only seven incidents were reported since the start of the year.
The report however stated that sustained efforts are needed to ensure the continued safety of seafarers in the West African region that remains dangerous.
IMB also stated that the dangerous state of the region was evidenced by the hijack of a product tanker off the coast of Ivory Coast on 24 January, during which all 17 crew were taken, hostage.
IMB further said that reports of armed robberies have been received within the anchorage waters of Angola and Ghana.
“Worldwide, this is the first quarter since 2010 where no crew kidnappings have been reported, although violence against and threat to crews continued with 23 crew taken hostage and a further four crew threatened,” the report stated.
IMB attributed the decline in the volume of attacks in the region to the efforts taken by maritime authorities in the region.
“The efforts of the regional and international navies have also resulted in a reduction of reported incidents from 16 in the first quarter of 2021 to seven over the same period in 2022. The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre however urges the coastal response agencies and independent international navies to continue their efforts to ensure piracy is permanently addressed in these highly risky waters,” the report stated.
Continuing, the report said: “There have been no reported crew kidnappings within Gulf of Guinea waters in quarter one of this year, which is a change compared to 40 crew kidnappings in the same period in 2021.”
IMB however stated that the threat to innocent seafarers remains and can be best exemplified by a recent attack where a Panamax-sized bulk carrier was boarded by pirates 260 Nautical Miles off the coast of Ghana on April 3.
“This illustrates that despite a decrease in reported incidents, the threat of Gulf of Guinea piracy and crew kidnappings remains. On being notified of the incident, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre immediately alerted and liaised with the Regional Authorities and international warships to request assistance,” the report added.
An Italian Navy warship and its helicopter instantly intervened, saving the crew and enabling the vessel to proceed to a safe port under escort.