A roundtable of international shipping industry associations has released an updated version of Guidelines for Owners, Operators and Masters for Protection Against Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea Region. The guidelines have been jointly developed by BIMCO, ICS, Intertanko and Intercargo.
Piracy and armed robbery in the waters off West Africa has become an established criminal activity of serious and heightened concern to the maritime sector.
Recent incidents have occurred as far south as Angola and north as Sierra Leone. These attacks have become increasingly violent, often involving firearms, and kidnapping for ransom has become more common.
In response, the industry has updated its existing guidelines, taking into account what has become a serious security threat.
Although the nature of attacks differ from that of Somalia-based piracy, the basic principles of the Best Management Practices, previously developed by the industry to help protect against piracy in the Indian Ocean, also apply.
The guidelines should be read in conjunction with BMP4, but also seek to tailor this to the specifics of the threat in West Africa, providing advice on avoiding and deterring criminal acts and armed robbery in the region.
The updated guidelines also take into account of new regional maritime security initiatives in West Africa, in particular the Maritime Trade Information Sharing Centre for the Gulf of Guinea (MTISC GOG), which is now providing a focal point for information on countering piracy and maritime crime in the region.