The Round Table 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 very serious concern to the maritime sector. Incidents have recently occurred as far south as Angola and as far north as Sierra Leone. These attacks have become increasingly violent, often involving firearms, and cases of kidnapping for ransom have also become more common. The global shipping industry has therefore acted in concert to update its existing Guidelines to take account of what has become a totally unacceptable security situation.
Although the nature of the attacks against shipping in West Africa differs 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, are also applicable. The Guidelines should therefore be read in conjunction with BMP4, but seek to tailor this to the specifics of the threat in West Africa, providing comprehensive 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. The Guidelines have therefore been released in conjunction with the launch of the new MTISC GOG website which includes Regional Maritime Security Guidance and MTISC-GOG reporting procedures so as to help ensure a co-ordinated approach amongst ships operating in the Gulf of Guinea.
The revised industry Guidelines can be downloaded free of charge from the websites of BIMCO, ICS, INTERCARGO AND INTERTANKO.