The West African coast has overtaken Southeast Asia as the worst area for piracy and kidnappings reported at sea last year, with the number of seafarers seized rising by more than 50%, according to a study.
The area, known as the Gulf of Guinea, also recorded the third highest number of ship losses — its most yet, Allianz Global, an insurance company with headquarters in Germany said Tuesday in a report. Abductions accounted for 90% of the global total in 2019, according to the International Maritime Bureau.
“Piracy remains an ongoing issue,” said Rahul Khanna, global head of marine risk at Allianz. “We thought we had a handle on it but it has manifested yet again.”
Incidents on West Africa-bound vessels have been rising steadily in recent years, with attacks targeting crew rather than the ship or its cargo. Despite a global decline in piracy last year, there has been no let-up in attacks in the Gulf of Guinea in 2020, especially off Nigeria’s coast.
About 45% of global piracy occurred in the Gulf of Guinea in the first quarter of this year, according to Allianz. There were 47 reported incidents, up from 38 a year ago, mostly targeting container ships and bulk carriers.
Piracy will likely remain a threat for the foreseeable future amid heightened global political and economic uncertainties, Allianz said.
Photograph: This photo taken on Feb. 22, 2016 shows a rescued Panama-flagged Maximus vessel at the Naval dock yard in Lagos, Nigeria. After pirates hijacked the vessel, navies from the United States, Ghana, Togo and Nigeria tracked the tanker through waters off five countries before Nigerian naval forces stormed aboard on Saturday Feb. 20, amid a shootout that killed one of the pirates. Photo credit: AP Photo/Sunday Alamba.
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