During the first half of 2019, the International Maritime Bureau said 62 seafarers were taken hostage by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea.
The International Maritime Bureau, which tracks incidents of pirate attacks against merchant ships, said the waters along West Africa remain the “world’s most dangerous for piracy.”
Of the 75 reported incidents of seafarers taken hostage or held for ransom so far this year, 62 were captured in the Gulf of Guinea, IMB said in a report. The Gulf of Guinea includes the coasts of Benin, Cameroon, Guinea, Nigeria and Togo.
For the first half of 2019, the IMB Piracy Reporting Center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, received reports of 78 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against vessels worldwide, compared to 107 incidents for the same period in 2018. Of the 78 incidents, 57 vessels were boarded by pirates. One seafarer reportedly was killed.
IMB said two chemical tankers and a tug were hijacked in the Gulf of Guinea in the first half of 2019. According to the IMB, the tug later was used by the pirates in another attack. Nine vessels transiting this body of water also were fired upon by pirates during this period. These attacks are deemed acts of piracy since they took place at least 65 nautical miles off the coast, the IMB said.
However, the IMB said the second quarter of 2019 started showing a decrease in pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea as the Nigerian, Equatorial Guinea and Spanish navies stepped up patrols in the area, even foiling some attacks.
The IMB warned vessel operators and seafarers to remain vigilant against armed attacks not only off the coasts of Africa but along South and Central America and Southeast Asia.
“Early detection of an approaching suspicious craft is key to prevent boarding and give time to raise the alarm and retreat into a citadel, if needed,” an IMB spokesperson said in a statement.