Navy destroys 1500 illegal refineries in Delta

The Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) DELTA has destroyed about 1500 illegal refineries with swamp buggy in the Delta creeks in the last two months.

The Commander of the ship, Commodore Ibrahim Dewu, disclosed this to newsmen in Warri on Wednesday.

Swamp buggy is an amphibious vehicle used to traverse a swampy terrain.

Dewu said the destruction exercise was carried out in the creeks of Otumara, Ogbegugu, Okpuku in the Warri creeks.

He added that personnel of the command were currently on the Bennett Island in Warri South Local Government Area of the state in continuation of the exercise.

He said that the perpetrators had devised means of preventing the soldiers and the swamp buggy from gaining access to the sites by blocking the entrances with logs or setting fire around the sites.

The commander, however, said their antics would not deter the soldiers from carrying out their statutory obligation of completely eradicating illegalities in the maritime domain.

“It takes us time to remove the logs for our men and the swamp buggy to have access but we are determined,” he said.

He said the criminals’ activities were also contributing to the degradation of the ecosystem.

“The antics of the criminal elements will not deter us from eradicating the illegality with the aide of swamp buggy which I believe will bring a lasting solution to economic sabotage.

” We decided to apply swamp buggy because it is more environment friendly and difficult for the perpetrators to resuscitate the illicit business since their facilities are also crushed completely in the process.

“Apart from that, we also do post-monitoring of the various sites we have destroyed to ensure that the criminals do not return to reactivate them.

” So far, the exercise has been successful and we will not rest on our oars until the illegalities are completely eradicated in our maritime domain,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that in one of the operations on Bennett Island on June 12, the perpetrators set fire around the vicinity of the illegal refinery to prevent the soldiers from entering.

The navy personnel then created alternative means for themselves, journalists and the swamp buggy to gain access and therefore, crushed the criminals’ equipment amid thick smoke and rain.

Source: Business day

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Iran Threatens To Close Crucial Oil Chokepoint

An old doomsday scenario has been revived again by Iranian officials.

Iranian president Rouhani stated on Tuesday in Bern, Switzerland that his country could block the Strait of Hormuz for all Arab shipping traffic if Washington fully implements its zero oil export targets for Iran in the coming months.

Rouhani, who is currently on a lobbying mission in Europe in an effort to salvage the JCPOA deal (the Iran nuclear deal) and mitigate U.S. sanctions, seems to be have been pushed by hardliners to increase threats against Iran’s neighbors.

Rouhani, considered by European politicians to be a reformist, appears to be showing a hardline streak that is nearer the strategy of the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. Khamenei has already been pushing for a direct confrontation with the U.S. and the Arab Alliance.

Several hours after Rouhani made his statement, Major-General Qassem Soleimani, one of the leaders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), told the press that the IRGC is fully prepared to implement any action ordered by Rouhani or Khamenei. Soleimani, well-known for his direct involvement in the Syrian civil war and the set up of Iraqi Shi’a militias, has a reputation for taking strong and direct military action if needed. No direct threats were made, but the closure of the Strait of Hormuz, the main thoroughfare of the Arabian/Persian Gulf region, is of strategic importance to all. At present, according to the Energy Information Agency (EIA.gov), more than 17 million bpd of crude oil and products travel through the strait every day. If taking into account that all of Qatar’s LNG exports are also going through it, the importance is clear.

The Iranian threat to close the Strait is not new. During the so-called Tanker War (1980-88) Iran was also threatening to block or even permanently close it. Western naval forces have been able to prevent that outcome, but a large amount of tankers and transport vessels have been impacted during that period. In the last decade, several military confrontations have occurred, largely between U.S. Navy vessels patrolling the Arabian Gulf and IRGC light navy vessels. The latter however have become a major threat to maritime traffic in the area, as they are not very easy to spot and can travel with relatively high speed. The capabilities of the IRGC Naval Forces (IRGCNF) should not be underestimated in this particular area. The IRGCNF has around 25,000 personnel and in combination with the regular Iranian Navy they have seven frigates and 32 fast-attack missile craft which form the core of its surface fleet, all armed with the C-802 Noor long-range anti-ship missile. More threatening are the possibilities of the large flotilla of small craft, ranging from offshore patrol boats to armed motorboats and dhows, intended for coastal service and for mounting swarm attacks in the Strait of Hormuz. The IRGCNF task force is based largely in and around the Strait of Hormuz. Its bases are located in the Persian Gulf.

A confrontation between the Arab OPEC members, led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and Iran is far from impossible. The Shi’a regime is under enormous pressure at present. With the JCPOA agreement on its last legs, the Iranian government needs to save face and is expected to increase pressure on its regional neighbors in a response to Trump’s threats. Since May, when the U.S. pulled out of the JCPOA, all countries that previously bought Iranian oil have been asked to end their dealings with the Khamenei regime.

Washington has repeated in recent days that no oil should leave Iran after November 4, as the full package of sanctions will come into effect. Asian customers are already leaving Iran, although China is still officially stating that it will not end its Iranian oil imports and operations. NATO member Turkey has also openly defied the U.S. sanction threats by stating that it will continue to import oil and gas from Iran.

Military assessments have shown that a closure of the Strait of Hormuz is possible. An attack on several vessels at the same time in the Strait would close it for a prolonged period of time. Analysts, however, expect that with the military means available to Arab states and Western navies in the area, a full closure would only last for around a month. If a full-blown war breaks out, removal of the offending vessels would be dealt with reasonably quick. Still, the threat of such a direct confrontation, and a possible unforeseen fall-out, significantly raises the geopolitical risk in energy markets.

By using the hardline approach, Rouhani, with Khamenei and the IRGC in the background, has shown the world the possible negative outcome if the U.S. does implement full sanctions. Tehran is using the carrot-and-the-stick approach. Offering increased European investment in Iran’s upstream and downstream sectors will help finance the country’s struggling economy while giving foreign investors tempting oil opportunities. At the same time, by keeping 100 percent compliance in place, Iran could ensure downward pressure on oil prices in the coming months, which is good for European consumers. Iran is painting a doomsday scenario involving the removal of 100 percent of its crude oil and gas exports, which would cause huge supply shortages in the coming months.

If this isn’t convincing enough for its rivals, military action in the Arabian Gulf or Persian Region is always another option for Iran. While talking to European media, Rouhani addressed his Arab counterparts. Closing the Strait of Hormuz would be hitting Arab economies extremely hard. The Iranian president just forgot to state that it would be hitting Iran harder, looking at the current economic situation and growing civil unrest in major cities. Still, when all goes bonkers, the military option is normally used to save the day.

U.S. officials already have stated to the press that the U.S. and its regional allies will keep commercial traffic and freedom of navigation in place. As indicated after the OPEC -NOPEC meeting in Vienna, the agreement is signed, but a full confrontation is just waiting to pop up very soon. The current Iranian direct threat is just a wake-up call for all, taking out OPEC’s second largest producer is no easy task.

Another option that has not yet been discussed at all in the mainstream media invlolves Iran’s capabilities in the so-called blue-water arena. At present, Iran’s Navy is already engaged in and around the Bab Al-Mandab strait, between Yemen and the Horn of Africa. Since 2013 Tehran has again deployed units to the Red Sea. Officially, this was done to protect Iranian vessels against piracy, but in reality Iranian navy vessels are patrolling the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. In 2015, Yemen’s Houthi rebels stated that Iran’s Navy had deployed in the North of the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. The reason behind this is to project its power, and threaten to disrupt possible maritime traffic in the area. Iranian officials already have instigated that they will use their naval presence in the area in case of an attack on Iran. The use of its force in the Gulf of Aden/Bab Al Mandeb area is also a threat to its Arab neighbors. A large part of seaborne oil and gas exports from the Gulf region will have to transit through this area to enter the Suez Canal. A two-sided approach to confront its enemies is in the reach of Iran. How effective it will be is unclear, but one effect is for sure, oil export volumes are facing a serious threat and any closure or disturbance of shipping lanes at present will push prices up.

Source: Cyril Widdershoven for Oilprice.com

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Two armed robberies in ships in Asia reported last week

In its latest weekly piracy report, ReCAAP ISC informed of two incidents of armed robbery against ships in Asia.

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Indian Ocean, Multiple Incidents

Pirate Attack

Date: 04/07/2018

Time: 0502Z

Position: 13 33 N 042 40 E
On 04 JUL 2018 at approximately 05.02 UTC an MV in position: 13 33.2N 042 40.1E (Approx. 5 miles south of Hanish Islands) reported being approached at speed by 3, white and blue hulled skiffs. Each skiff had 7/8 POB. The skiffs fired at the MV, embarked AST returned fire. The crew and vessel are safe.

 


Suspicious Approach

Date: 04/07/2018
Time: 0950Z
Position: 24 02 N 059 55 E

On 04 JUL 2018 at approximately 09.50UTC a Merchant Vessel in position: 24 02 02N 059 55 38E (Gulf Of Oman) reported being approached at speed by 2 white hulled small craft with 4 POB. The closest point of approach on the Merchant Vessel was 500m. The crew and vessel are safe.

 

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BMP5: Updated best practices to deter piracy issued

In June 2018, the 5th edition of the piracy-specific Best Management Practice (BMP5) was published compiling a useful and comprehensive guidance which introduces effective measures for the protection of crew, vessels and cargo while transiting  the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. The new edition supersedes BMP4.

Source: Safety4Sea

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Military confrontations eased in port of Hodeidah

The Swedish P&I Club issued an alert informing that military confrontations have eased in the Yemeni port of Hodeidah, pending a political deal that would bring the rebels out of the city and hand over the port to a neutral UN-controlled body. The port of Hodeidah is open and operational.

Source: Safety4Sea

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How ReCAAP ISC works to combat Asian piracy

The short film provides an insight into the work of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP), the first regional government-to-government agreement to promote and enhance cooperation against piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia.

 

The ReCAAP Agreement was launched in November 2006 with 14 Asian Contracting Parties including North, Southeast, and South Asian countries. It has 20 Contracting Parties today, including Europe (Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark, and the United Kingdom), Australia, and the United States. The ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre (ReCAAP ISC) was established in Singapore on 29 November 2006. At the 12th Governing Council Meeting in 2018, the Council announced that ReCAAP ISC has met the criteria to be a Centre of Excellence for information sharing in combating piracy and armed robbery at sea.

 

 

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BMP5 – Best Management Practises To Deter Piracy And Enhance Maritime Security In The red Sea, Gulf Of Aden, Indian Ocean And Arabian Sea

BMP5 is now available

Somali piracy has not been eradicated and remains a threat. As well as piracy, regional instability and conflict have resulted in the deliberate targeting of ships by extremist groups using weapons such as anti-ship missiles, sea mines and Water-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (WBIED).

Warships and aircraft of EU NAVFOR Somalia’s Operation Atalanta continue to patrol the region, providing a permanent presence to deter, prevent and repress piracy and other maritime security threats and the protect World Food Programme (WFP) and other vulnerable shipping off the Horn of African and the Coast of Somalia.

Source: EU Navfor

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‘There is no comprehensive piracy law in Nigeria’

Adjudicating on admiralty or maritime matters was a herculean task for Nigerian judges as well as lawyers who appear before them until the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) decided to take the bull by the horns by way of organizing international seminars for judges. Today, the story has changed and more judges are now at home with contemporary issues on international transportation laws. The Executive Secretary of the NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello, in this interview with select journalist including Joseph Onyekwere gives an overview of their upcoming seminar. He, among other issues hinted that the agenda to push for piracy law in Nigeria is in the works, when the judges’ seminar for this year ends July 5.

After a long wait, the senate has finally passed the National Transport Commission bill. How will it impact on what the Council does?
How it would impact on the economy is even more important because the Commission is a multi-sectoral bill, which is structured to take care of economic regulation of the industry. When the port reform was introduced almost 10 years ago, there was a serious gap, where there was no economic regulator. This gap has threatened to roll back the gains of the reforms. If we have economic regulator across all transport chains, including aviation, marine, rail, road and inland waterways, there will be multiplier effect on the economy. The economic regulator is there to guarantee the efficiency of transportation. It will also guarantee healthy competition. Don’t forget that Nigeria is in competition with its neighbouring central and Western Africans ports. If we improve efficiency, we will gain more cargo and a lot of people will be employed too. Economic regulator will also ensure that there are conducive environment for investment. The government should guarantee the investment of investors, both local and foreign. So, the economic regulator is the referee in this game. The Nigerian Shippers Council has always been a regulator since 1978, when it was set up. It was not emphasized at that time because government was the operator of all transport system. But now, the private sector is there. So, there is need for us to have that regulator. If the capacity of the Shippers Council is enhanced, it would do its work more. Shippers Council would be the nucleus of the National Transportation Commission, but all the other agencies would also be part of it.

How will the intended Commission relate to the National Fleet Implementation Committee, of which you are the chairman? 
One of the cardinal agenda of the committee is for Nigerians to own and operate ships. We are not reinventing the wheels. Nigeria had been trading for a long time. We once had the Nigerian National Shipping Line. What people don’t really understand is that there is a radical departure now. The fleet will be a private led national fleet and not that of the government as it was operating before. You need the private sector to come and lead. So government is not spending one kobo. The function of the committee is to look at the issues that would make it conducive for that initiative to grow. Introducing National fleet is not buying akara or bread. We need a sustainable national fleet that would operate because of the tremendous advantages. NIMASA can give the fleet national carrier status. Once that happens, they will have exclusive right to government cargo. You can imagine what the earnings of the fleet can do to our economy and the effect on our financial institutions. We have to address the economic management team. We are talking with Central Bank and the ministry of budget also.

What exactly informed your decision to organize international seminar for judges?
It is the need to bridge the knowledge gap. Since 1995, Nigerian Shippers Council realized that there was a kind of vacuum on the decision of judges on admiralty matters. The adjudication took a long time. Neither the judges nor the lawyers who practice before them were actually conversant with the very technical nature of admiralty law, by extension, international trade and other transportation laws. So, for us to have the internationality that is needed, we need to have a modern adjudicatory system. The judges must be able to adjudicate not just correctly, but timeously. Therefore, we intend to bridge this gap to educate and inform the judges on developments on international law so as to speed up cases. Hitherto, there were only few judges who were conversant with admiralty law or what we call maritime law. Because of this seminar, over 1000 judges have been trained and the international community has begun to realize that the decision of judges in Nigeria was becoming better. Admiralty law or maritime law was not taught in our Universities, neither was it a course in the law school and so, sometimes the decisions were not very good then. But now, the decisions of our judges are becoming better and are internationally acknowledged to be very good. There are also structural changes in maritime law and jurisprudence. You know that the federal high court has exclusive jurisdiction on maritime matters before it goes to the appeal court and the Supreme Court. So these are our targets, but they could be overlapping jurisdictions at the state high courts. And sometimes, judges of the state high courts are given appointment to the federal high court or promoted to the court of appeal. So, the whole thing is to update their knowledge on maritime laws.

A lot of people impute motive to things. Are you not a bit concerned that as an institution that would one time or the other appear before those judges, it is unethical to sponsor their training?
There is nothing like that absolutely. Nigerian judges know their responsibilities. We take the judiciary as a stakeholder just the same way we organize conferences for freight-forwarders, organize courses for shippers, administrators and many other stakeholders. The judiciary is a very important stakeholder and our relationship is nothing but official. It cannot be a thing of influence; after all, we have been taken to court and we got adverse judgments. Until now that you pointed it out, I have not thought of it. And other institutions also organize such courses too. The exercise is meant to update the knowledge of our judges.

You are in the 15th edition of this seminar. What is your appraisal of the event so far?
The seminar first of all updates the knowledge of our judges. Secondly, it influences and has created what I may call a judicial backup for our system. We have legislations that have come out of this seminar. The Homburg Rules, which is an international convention, has been ratified. This is as a result of what had happened in this seminar. Even the Cabotage Act was as a result of this seminar; reforms in the freight forwarding practice, leading to the council for regulation of freight-forwarders. So the seminar is not just a talk-shop. It takes a look at the whole maritime law, where various topics are discussed. It is a seminar specifically targeted at the judges.

What are the highlights of this year’s seminar?
We will discuss burning issues that are disturbing us, contemporary issues and we interact directly with the judges to know what their own challenges are. For instance, the issue of piracy in Nigeria is becoming a disturbing phenomenon. In Nigeria, we don’t have a leading law on piracy. The suppression of unlawful Act, which is supposed to be the main convention, is yet to be ratified by Nigeria. So, sometimes, we have to rely on municipal laws. Therefore, we will bring out a panel to discuss this issue of piracy. What we want is that after the seminar, there will be a law on piracy. We have assembled panels, made up of experts. The topic is piracy and armed robbery at sea: judicial interpretation and economic implication. There is always a nexus between the economy and the judiciary.

We have Dr. Kamal Deen Ali, who is Ghanaian Navy Captain and also a director, Centre for Maritime Law and Security, Accra, Ghana, who will provide the lead paper. And this would be commented, by the director general of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), director, legal services of the Nigerian Navy, the regional maritime Security Project officer of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and Mike Igbokwe (SAN), who is an expert on admiralty law. Our aim is to push for a comprehensive legislation on piracy because piracy has economic implication on Nigerian trade. We also have applicability of international treaties to Nigerian laws. This will be delivered by prof. Akin Oyebode, former dean, faculty of law, University of Lagos. There are some technical issues about domestication of international conventions. For instance, what we have right now are two conventions operating in Nigeria – The Hague rules and the Homburg rule, which is abnormal because the legislature did not accept the Homburg rules and The Hague rules side by side. There is almost confusion on what is to be done and prof Oyebode would be able to clear that issue. Those are the kind of issues that would interest the judges and stakeholders.

In assessing your previous seminars, you hinted that part of your success story was the enactment of the cabotage Act. In your own estimation, how far has that Act impacted on Maritime industry in the country?
We ought to be practical when we bring out legislation. We cannot legislate in vain. The cardinal issues on Cabotage are three – the ship must be built in Nigeria, it must be crewed by Nigerians and Nigerians must own it. This is a trade in brown waters similar to Jones Act as we have it in America. But in Nigeria, the infrastructure necessary to give life to Cabotage Act is not there. Unfortunately, we have not been able to provide ship-building yard for us to produce that ship. Until now, our nautical colleges have not been able to churn out qualified cadets. Ownership could be done, but the other two things are unable to manifest.

So we cannot implement a law that is not just there. I think we are grappling with the implementation. Cabotage law is a good law aimed at building the capacity of our indigenous shippers and employing our cadets, but the conditions necessary for the implementation of this law is not just there yet.

Having that in mind and also muting the idea of the piracy law, what are you going to do differently to ensure it does not suffer the same fate?
Piracy does not need infrastructure, which the Cabotage needs. What we need to do on piracy is to define what it means and bring it out of armed robbery and militancy and include enough deterrent. That is the main issue. If we do that, piracy would be properly defined and the sanctions are there, then there will be deterrent. The security architecture would be better defined after this seminar.

Apart from the issue of piracy, what other contemporary issues within the maritime industry are you focusing on?
We have the rights of a Cargo Owner at the Insolvency of the Carrier. We are taking the case study of the Hanjin Shipping experience, a big Shipping company that went down. What are the contractual obligations of everybody who is affected by it? Maritime is multifacet. There are so many parties and agencies involved. It is a myriad of rights and obligations. We also have an overview of the proposed liability regime for inland carriage of goods. This is very important issue. While we have international conventions on international waters, carriage of goods internally, there is no regulations and there is no liability regime. Everybody does whatever he or she wants. But Nigerian Shippers Council is trying to provide order. There must be some responsibilities and order. If you give your luggage to one of the luxury buses to take to Enugu and it got missing, who takes liability for that? Even on trains, what are the obligations if there is a breakdown and your cargo is not delivered?

How do you push the narratives that will come out of this seminar in order to have maximum impact?
We have an implementation committee for maximum impact and result. Immediately after the seminar, the committee looks at all the resolutions and then we discuss with the National Assembly and demand legislation.

Apart from the robust idea of organizing this seminar and the results that comes from it, how far have you been able to fulfill your mandate as economic regulator?
This is an important question and it has been very challenging. Once something is new, the action usually differs. The port reform had gone eight years when Nigerian Shippers Council was appointed. I always give example of people playing football in the park. You could do anything including scoring goal with your hands because there are no rules. But suddenly the referee appears to begin to blow the whistle. The most important thing is that the Nigerian Shippers Council has been recognized and slowly we are inching towards that. We are independent. We must maintain our independence from government and remain that referee that would sanction anybody, including the shippers, terminal operators, freightforwarders and Shipping lines.

What we want is the coming together. We want to introduce harmony. The first thing we did was to involve ourselves so much in introducing standard operating procedure at the ports because the port was just going without any rules. There are many agencies and everybody does what they liked. We need to banish corruption from the ports. It must block leakages because government was suffering hemorrhage in collection of its revenues and we have to introduce specific rules to check it. Most importantly, our ports must be able to compete, not only in Nigeria, but internationally. We have to introduce automation in port operations. We can’t have people going to the port all the time. We need a system, whereby one does not need to be in the port to clear his or her goods. Automation and technology are the light that would eliminate all the dark spots in the port and banish corruption.

You don’t need to arrest anybody. Those who can no longer operate in the old ways will comply, while those who cannot comply go away. Transportation must make its meaningful contribution to our economy. What it is doing now is not enough. We also have the rail revolution coming up. It will never be the same again for Nigeria. It will be a game changer because rail carries volumes and it is cheaper. It integrates the country serving the seaport and the inland port. That means we are diversifying our economy for exports and export is the way to go. We are opening up the system and once that is done, Nigeria will be a very strong economy.

Source: The Guardian

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European tuna vessels avoid Gulf of Guinea amid rising piracy threat

European tuna vessels are avoiding fishing in the Gulf of Guinea and nearby waters amid a rising threat of piracy in the area.

Most European tuna vessels generally fish further up north in the Atlantic, industry sources told Undercurrent. In recent months, they have preferred to avoid the area, in any case, due to the risk of being attacked.

“We received detailed information from the Operations and Surveillance Center of Maritime Action of the Navy (COVAM) on the situation that is lived, in general, in the Gulf of Guinea. It is true that there is an increase in piratical activity more related to what some call armed robbery at sea, sometimes linked to attacks in anchorages, or fuel theft,” Borja Alonso, director of legal affairs and sustainability at Albacora, told Undercurrent News.

“But we understand that, although we follow these events with concern (the kidnapping that happened in March could have affected anyone), we are far from the situations that came to live in the Indian Ocean some time ago,” Alonso added.

Over the last six years, the threat from piracy in the Gulf of Guinea “has increased significantly, from a focus on the hijacking of tankers for cargo theft to the situation we see now where there is a threat against all types of shipping with the kidnapping of seafarers for ransom”, Max Williams, fleet operations director at security service provider Africa Risk Compliance (ARC), told Undercurrent.

“We believe that the threat since mid-2016 has been at an elevated level, and we correctly predicted that there would be an increase in attacks on vessels off Togo and Ghana following incidents against merchant vessels in Benin in the first three months of 2018. We have counted over 80 incidents against merchant vessels in the Gulf of Guinea since the start of the year,” Williams said.

An incident against a fishing vessel in West Africa took place off Ghana in late March, with the kidnapping of three sailors from a tuna pole and line vessel that belongs to World Marine, a Ghanaian-Korean joint venture company, according to sources.

“It is a very serious matter in the Atlantic, as the Korean captain, chief engineer and first officer were kidnapped. The Korean government dispatched a navy vessel from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic urgently, and within few days after arrival, all crew was released,” one Korean industry source told Undercurrent.

“Ghana Tuna Association asked the Ghanaian government to monitor pirate in the zone and asked all boat owners not to fish alone or isolated, to make some group with few boats in the Ghana zone,” the industry source added.

Other incidents in 2018 include an attack on two fishing vessels south-west of Lagos in March, an attack on a local fishing vessel in Cotonou when a fisherman was killed, and the kidnapping of three crew from a Chinese fishing boat in Cameroonian waters in February, according to Williams.

Aside from the above incidents against fishing vessels, larger merchant vessels of all types have regularly come under attack south and south-west of Bonny, Nigeria, and Lagos is currently experiencing a spike in security incidents within the port area.

“As we include attacks against local vessels in our figures, we believe that over 100 seafarers have been kidnapped since the beginning of the year, with several crew members and vessel passengers injured and some killed,” Williams said.

Compared to the Indian Ocean, the threat of piracy is far greater in the Gulf of Guinea, Williams pointed out. “The threat of piracy in the Indian Ocean has reduced with the embarkation of privately armed security personnel and the presence of the international navies and the coordination with UKMTO [UK Maritime Trade Operations] and MSCHOA [Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa]. However, the conflict in Yemen does increase the risk against merchant vessels, although they may not be intended targets if they are not calling at Yemeni ports and are instead at risk of collateral damage from the conflict,” Williams said.

Fishing companies should ensure that they are aware of where exactly the threat is.

It has been demonstrated that pirates have the ability to attack vessels at significant distances from the shore and companies should have an understanding of where attacks are happening and what the trends are, Williams pointed out.

“This is the reason we operate our intelligence system which keeps clients informed of when and where attacks happen. Vessels are at their most vulnerable when stationary or moving slowly, and a low freeboard makes it easy for pirates to board. Vessels should conduct watch routines at all times of day and night, and equipment like night vision goggles can be very useful to maintain an effective lookout during the night,” he said.

Efficient and tested security procedures, such as emergency drills, should be in place, and vessels should be hardened as much as possible with equipment such as razor wire, steel plates or bars over windows and secure doors.

“If it is not possible to secure a vessel effectively (due to cargo or fishing operations), a well-constructed citadel is a very effective means to offer protection to crew should the vessel be attacked and boarded by pirates. As part of our services, vessel security surveys and crew training are designed to assist in this, and this approaches can offer a more cost-effective security solution than the armed guards and escort vessels employed by larger merchant vessels,” Williams said.

ARC, a company that provides a range of security services to shipping in the Gulf of Guinea since 2012, offers security services based on each client’s budget and requirement. The offered security options include embarked armed security when in territorial waters, unarmed security consultants embarked and remaining on vessels as they sail across the region, and armed escort vessels when vessels are entering ports and river channels.

Source: Undercurrent News

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