Oceans Beyond Piracy has launched its fifth annual report detailing the economic and human costs of maritime piracy, citing a chronic under-reporting of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
The region faces a variety of challenges related to chronic under-reporting of incidents and an absence of prosecutions. “We have observed that up to 70 percent of piracy-related incidents in the Gulf of Guinea are never reported, so we currently lack a complete understanding of the problem,” says Pottengal Mukundan, Director of the International Maritime Bureau. “This also makes it difficult to assess the extent of the threats seafarers face in this region.”
In the Western Indian Ocean, Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP) found that while naval mandates recommended industry self-protection practices and the size of the high risk area remain unchanged, the observed commitment of naval assets and use of vessel protection measures such as increased speed and rerouting by merchant vessels continued to decrease, resulting in the total economic cost dropping by 28 percent in 2014.
Alarmingly, the perceived reduction in the piracy threat has also resulted in more foreign fishing vessels returning to areas close to the coast of Somalia. Alan Cole, Head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s Global Maritime Crime Programme notes, “These provocations are similar to those that triggered piracy off the coast of Somalia in the first place. We are already seeing an upturn in regional piracy incidents since the beginning of the year.”