By Godwin Oritse
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) yesterday released its first quarter 2019 report in which it acknowledged that, in the first quarter of 2019, Nigeria experienced a decrease in reported piracy incidents.
According to the IMB, Nigeria reported 14 incidents of piracy for Q1 2019, in comparison to 22 incidents during the corresponding period in 2018. This is despite being a hotspot for piracy incidents over the past decade.
“These results confirm the Nigerian Navy’s increased efforts to “actively respond to reported incidents by dispatching patrol boats,” the report said.
It, however, noted that despite these efforts, Nigerian waters remain risky for vessels, especially the port of Lagos where four incidents have been reported
In the global arena, the IMB reported that the first quarter of 2019 saw fewer incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships, compared to the first three months of 2018.
According to the global body, there were 38 incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea in the first quarter of this year.
This represents 28 fewer incidents or a decrease of 42.4 per cent, compared to the corresponding period last year when 66 incidents were recorded.
IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre detailed that 27 vessels were boarded, seven vessels were fired upon and four attempted attacks occurred in Q1 2019. No vessels were reported as hijacked for the first time since the first quarter of 1994.
“These latest statistics from the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre are encouraging. However, first quarter statistics is too short a period on which to anticipate trends over the year,” Pottengal Mukundan, IMB Director, said.
On the Gulf of Guinea where Nigeria is a prominent nation, the IMB reported that it represented a high number of piracy and armed robbery attacks at sea, with 22 incidents reported in the first quarter of 2019.
The region also accounted for all of the worldwide crew kidnappings as 21 crew members were kidnapped across five separate incidents. Incidents were reported in the coastal countries of Benin, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria and Togo in the first quarter of 2019.
In Asia, Indonesia witnessed a drop in piracy activities for the first quarter of 2019. There were only three incidents reported against anchored vessels in ports in Indonesia – the fewest reported incidents since 2010 – according to the report.
As with Nigeria, increased cooperation and information sharing between the Indonesian Marine Police and IMB Piracy Reporting Centre has enabled regular patrols in high-risk areas.
The declining rate of piracy incidents worldwide in the first quarter of 2019 reinforces the importance of transparency, communication and coordination between vessels and coastal authorities, IMB stressed.
By reporting all incidents to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre and coastal authorities, the response can be better organized improving incident response times and prompt advice to vessels aimed at more optimal use of resources. National governments and coastal authorities can use this data to collaborate and strengthen their piracy prevention efforts, IMB further said.