Authorities in the Gulf of Guinea have made a significant effort to prioritise the development of maritime security infrastructure, but consistent lack of prosecution is feeding a rise in under- reporting.
“Shipowners and operators in the region have reached saturation point whereby they feel that even if they do report, no arrests will be made,” Cyrus Mody at the ICC told IHS Maritime today.
According to a report released this week by OBP, 2014 saw a decline in reporting, while 60% of attacks occurred in Nigerian waters.
With up to 70% of piracy-related incidents in the Gulf of Guinea unreported, assessing the true cost and extent of the threat is problematic.
“We get fewer reports from ships or vessel operators that are local to the region, who fear that if they do report, they may be harder hit by pirates.
“Because over the years there haven’t been any visual arrests or prosecutions, operators question: ‘what is the use of reporting’,” he told IHS Maritime.
This is leading to a shift in attitude. “Everyone knows that there is very high level of corruption, and so it has become more of an ‘acceptance’, in that entering those waters, you know that this is what can happen,” said Mody.
Ransom costs in the Gulf of Guinea have been estimated in the region of USD1.6 Million annually, though true costs are hard to confirm.
Other reasons for under-reporting, include fears of insurance premiums rising, alongside other financial costs.
“There is a concern that by reporting the incidences, the vessels may be called in for investigation by the local authorities, which could go on for days and is not deemed commercially viable,” he said.
With the Gulf of Guinea being a commercial hotspot for locally extracted crude, Mody suggests commercial sensitivities could also play a part.
“The ICC recently learnt of a number of vessels in the GoG that are not supposed to be operating there,” said Mody, making them easy prey. “It is then difficult for the operators to reveal their vessel location,” he said.
Reporting is still occurring to a degree, but mainly within security networks of the oil majors and other shipping lines.
“Information is flowing – it’s just that it is not coming out to help the wider industry in the region tackle the problem,” he concluded.