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IMB urges vigilance amid spike in piracy in Gulf of Guinea

IMB urges vigilance amid spike in piracy in Gulf of Guinea
Xinhua| 2018-07-24

NAIROBI, July 24 (Xinhua) -- A global maritime body on Tuesday urged foreign vessels to remain vigilant as they transit Gulf of Guinea amid persistent piracy risk in West Africa in the first six months.

The latest report by the International Chamber of Commerce's International Maritime Bureau (IMB) shows that all 2018 crew kidnappings have so far occurred in the Gulf of Guinea in six separate incidents.

According to the report, all 25 crew kidnappings reported this year have occurred over six incidents in the Gulf of Guinea, highlighting the higher risks in this area.

"The 2018 figures aptly demonstrate the value of timely and transparent reporting. The reports help to focus on risk areas, and to accurately inform vessels of evolving dangers and allow authorities to deliver an effective response," said Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB.

The report says a total of 107 incidents were reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) worldwide in the first six months of 2018.

In total, 69 vessels were boarded, with 23 attempted attacks, 11 vessels fired upon and four vessels hijacked, the IMB said, noting that no vessels were reported as hijacked in the second quarter of 2018.

"The number of crewmembers taken hostage increased from 63 to 102 compared to the same time period in 2017," said it said.

According to IMB, the number of crew kidnappings decreased from 41 by the second quarter in 2017 to 25 so far in 2018 and all occurred in the Gulf of Guinea.

The report says the true number of incidents in the Gulf of Guinea is believed to be "significantly higher" than what is reported to the IMB PRC.

The report says the number of 2018 incidents decreased in other piracy hotspots as there were no reported incidents recorded off the coast of Somalia in the second quarter of 2018.

"Masters are however again urged to continue to maintain high levels of vigilance when transiting the high-risk area and to follow the latest version of the best management practices," IMB said.

The African maritime industry, along the Indian Ocean, had been greatly affected by piracy that often raise the costs of shipping as insurance companies and private ship security companies increased their premiums to mitigate the risks.

According to IMB, piracy started declining from 2009. The shores of Africa remain attractive to pirates, with an estimated 90 percent of all its exports and imports moving across the high seas.

The piracy incident had also affected the shipping sector by rise of cost of insurance as shippers took extra covers for war risk, kidnap and ransom in addition to conventional underwriting of cargo and hull.