According to the 2020 annual report by the International Maritime Bureau, 135 crew were kidnapped globally from their vessels in 2020, with the Gulf of Guinea accounting for over 95 per cent of crew numbers kidnapped.
The report explained that a record 130 crew members were kidnapped in 22 separate incidents.
It read, “Since 2019, the Gulf of Guinea has experienced an unprecedented rise in the number of multiple crew kidnappings.
“In the last quarter of 2019 alone, the Gulf of Guinea recorded 39 crew kidnapped in two separate incidents.”
In 2020, the IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre said it received 195 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships worldwide, in comparison to 162 in 2019. The incidents included three hijacked vessels, 11 vessels fired upon, 20 attempted attacks, and 161 vessels boarded, the report said.
The rise is attributed to an increase of piracy and armed robbery reported within the Gulf of Guinea as well as increased armed robbery activity in the Singapore Straits.
A major part of Nigerian and Ghanaian waters, the Gulf of Guinea, was declared as the most dangerous in the 2020 report.
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The report read, “Incidents in the Gulf of Guinea are particularly dangerous as over 80 per cent of attackers were armed with guns, according to the latest IMB figures.
“All three vessel hijackings and nine of the 11 vessels fired upon in 2020 related to this region. Crew kidnappings were reported in 25 per cent of vessel attacks in the Gulf of Guinea – more than any other region in the world.”
It added, “Once kidnapped, the crew are removed from their vessel and can be held onshore until their release is negotiated.
“The furthest crew kidnapping in 2020 occurred almost 200 nautical miles from land with the average kidnapping incident taking place over 60 nautical miles from land, according to IMB.
“The rise in kidnapping incidents further away from shorelines demonstrates the increasing capabilities of pirates in the Gulf of Guinea.
“Given these developments, IMB advises vessels in the region to remain at least 250 nautical miles from the coast at all times, or until the vessel can transit to commence cargo operations at a berth or safe anchorage.”