The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is urging the implementation of Best Management Practices (BMP) and good coordination onshore to avoid, deter, delay and report attacks on ships in the Gulf of Guinea.

In a circular letter to IMO member states and the United Nations (UN), IMO secretary general Kitack Lim expressed deep concern about the escalation in the number and severity of attacks on ships and crew in the Gulf of Guinea.

Lim stressed the need for all stakeholders to work together to restore security and reduce the threats to safety of crews and vessels operating in the region. The call to action follows an attack on the containership Mozart, which took place on January 23, 2021. The attack resulted in a fatality and the kidnapping of 15 seafarers.

The IMO said it has been facilitating meetings with representatives from the industry, the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Interregional Coordination Centre for the Implementation of Regional Strategy for Maritime Safety and Security in Central and West Africa (ICC).

The IMO added it is currently working with the ICC to assist with the implementation of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct (YCC) – a regional code aimed at enhancing maritime security and addressing piracy, armed robbery against ships, illegal fishing and other illicit maritime activity.

Lim stressed the need for vessels to implement the IMO-endorsed Best Management Practices (BMP) for West Africa (WA), which covers risk assessment, ship protection measures, and reporting. The BMP can be downloaded here. 

At the next session of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), scheduled for May 2021, the IMO intends to convene a maritime security working group focusing on the Gulf of Guinea.