Cyprus Shipping Chamber requests effective action from governments on Gulf of Guinea Piracy Crisis

The Cyprus Shipping Chamber (CSC) has expressed growing frustration at what it sees as the ineffectiveness of the international community in addressing the ongoing piracy crisis in the Gulf of Guinea.

Despite comprehensive measures taken by ship operators to defend their ships and crews, and statements from local administrations that much work was being done to suppress the current spate of kidnappings, CSC said that more ships were being attacked and more seafarers were being taken hostage for ransom.

Recent incidents had seen a shift in methodology, with large numbers of seafarers being taken hostage for ransom in single incidents.

CSC said that there was growing concern that the international community was not actively seeking to eliminate piracy in the region and was instead treating the current level of attacks against Shipping as somehow ‘tolerable’. This, the CSC said, meant that pirates were being given a message that their criminal activity carried very few risks when set against the potential reward of millions of dollars in ransom payments. As a result, the number of pirates was growing, and there was real danger that, in the absence of a firm response, their methods of hijack and violent kidnapping would be copied by others elsewhere.

“The shipping industry is also calling on local governments in the Gulf of Guinea to take more effective actions to eliminate this intolerable situation, with additional steps to be taken now, and not later.  We cannot continue to allow crews to be taken hostage, a situation which is simply unacceptable”, CSC said.

The CSC noted that the protection of shipping from piracy – regardless of flag, or the nationality of the crew – was a clear and legitimate responsibility for governments under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“Historically, as now embodied in international law, the primary role of naval forces has always been to protect Merchant Shipping and to keep the sea lanes open to trade. It is extraordinary that governments today seem less able to protect Shipping than they were almost 200 years ago”, the CSC observed.

It called on the Cyprus Government to take “appropriate initiatives” at both the UN and the EU “to draw on all available resources to address the problem. Every effort must be exercised to eliminate this unacceptable behaviour and protect our crews”.