The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has reported a drop in piracy attacks in Nigeria in the third quarter of 2019. IMB said in its latest report, “Nigeria has reduced Q3 piracy attacks from 41 in 2018 to 29 in 2019,” which represents nearly 30 per cent year-on-year reduction.This is as the Deep Blue Project, a comprehensive maritime security architecture initiated by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), in collaboration with the military and other security agencies, comes into operation.
The piracy reporting body also said there was a decrease in global piracy incidents during the first nine months of 2019, compared with the corresponding period in 2018, in a fall to a five-year low.
Director of IMB, a specialised division of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Pottengal Mukundan, said, ‘’119 incidents have been reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Center in 2019, compared to 156 incidents for the same period in 2018. Overall, the 2019 incidents include 95 vessels boarded, 10 vessels fired upon, 10 attempted attacks, and four vessels hijacked. The number of crew taken hostage through the first nine months has declined from 112 in 2018 to 49 in 2019.”
However, according to IMB, piracy and armed robbery attacks remain a challenge in the Gulf of Guinea.
The decline in piracy and armed robbery attacks on vessels came as the Deep Blue Project, Nigeria’s Integrated Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, began to yield results. The project is handled by an Israeli firm, Homeland Security International (HLSI). It involves the training of field and technical operatives drawn from the various strata of the security services and NIMASA as well as acquisition of assets to combat maritime crime, such as fast intervention vessels, surveillance aircraft, and other facilities, and establishment of a command and control centre for data collection and information sharing to aid targeted enforcement.
The Deep Blue Project aims at building a formidable integrated surveillance and security architecture that will broadly combat maritime crime and criminalities in Nigeria’s waterways up to the Gulf of Guinea.
The timing of the IMB report also coincides with the conclusion of the Global Maritime Security Conference (GMSC 2019) hosted by Nigeria, and coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Transportation and NIMASA, under the theme, “Managing and Securing our Waters.”
With the stated objective of, among others, defining the nature and scope of coordinated responses to maritime insecurity in relation to interventions, the conference enabled global maritime leaders to review the progress made in the fight against maritime crime while charting strategies for the future.