The maritime industry has raised considerable alarm at the radical increase of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, and the threat it poses to the industry and seafarers. This article collects opinions and insights from subject matter experts, who attended MarSec20+. If you attended MarSec20+, you can watch it here(for a limited time).

Gulf of Guinea Piracy: Interpreting the Media and Reports

Newspapers have written alarming headlines about Gulf of Guinea piracy, particularly since early November. Although attacks have increased since November, one must closely look at the reports themselves. As Dirk Siebels explains, you have to analyse each report carefully, and therefore the overall landscape of the situation. Analysts must recognise when reported suspicious sightings are the result of overzealous seafarers, rather than leaving the data to be uninterpreted. Critically, as Dirk highlights, one must be careful in interpreting information, as an increase in reported attacks does not necessarily equate to an actual increase in attacks. Indeed, he strongly suspects that reports of kidnappings are not necessarily from shipping in the area, but rather the result of conflicts between local criminal gangs.

Nonetheless, as Jakob Larsen of BIMCO argues, pirates are taking seafarers hostage. In spite of overall statistics, the kidnappings that do happen demonstrate insecurity in the area – seafarers should be rightfully overzealous.

Read here: Building Cooperation against Maritime Crime

Resolving piracy in the Gulf of Guinea

Centrally, the problem is innately political. There are adequate resources to deter piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, but it will not stop the piracy itself. That is, there are short term ‘quick’ solutions, and long term solutions that must be distinguished from one another. Short term solutions show significant promise and are preventing numerous successful hijackings. As Evan Curt credits, that for some of its shortfalls, BMP has helped security significantly with the implementation of evasive manoeuvres and citadels. Furthermore, should Project Deep Blue and regional navies(with particular reference to the Nigerian Navy) cooperate effectively, piracy incidents will subside quite quickly. However, this does not mean that the problems that lead to piracy will have been solved.

Have you read about our alliances? We provide bespoke online platforms for CSOs, PFSOs, and CISOs to work with their fellow security officers in the industry. Find out about our Alliances here.

The Cultural Challenge

Key parties, whether militaries, shipping companies, and governments are rapidly awakening to the political undercurrents of the situation. That is, Nigerian criminal groups are mostly responsible for Gulf of Guinea piracy, and therefore the issue is political. In order to defeat the systemic problem of criminal groups, maritime groups must work with rather than in ignorance of the Nigerian government. Dimitris Maniatis from Maritime Risk Services characterizes Nigeria to be afflicted with ‘colonialisation syndrome,’ deeply sceptical of intervention from external parties. We must recognise that we have to work with Nigeria on a Nigeria First basis. Only then can crime be neutralised.

Given that the extent of the problem is systemic and tied to the governance of Nigeria, the relationship between Nigeria and local stakeholders must improve. Hurdles of cultural norms and differences must be tackled. Ian Ralby of I.R. Consilium noted how European navies and African navies did not cooperate at a deep level of interoperability in the Gulf of Guinea, reconciling it at operational differences, and that there was a distinct lack of shipping companies and African navies fostering relationships with one another.

Read here: Maritime Mental Health – A Hidden Security Risk

Indeed, Craig de Savoye from PVI Vessels explained that the solution has to be homegrown. Though hard for shipping companies to accept, it is completely necessary to properly stamp out the issue of piracy. In line with Dimitris’ analogy, this has to be Nigeria first. Decades ago Nigeria’s goal was to become independent, which it did through building its own companies up in oil and gas. Currently, the oil and gas sector in Nigeria is homegrown and internationally competitive. He credited that this was a similar approach to take with Nigerian PMSCs, expressing that they need capital and support to provide the right equipment and support.


For piracy to be truly stamped out, the Nigerian government must be pressured into acknowledging the piracy problem. And those within the maritime sector must help encourage it in a way that does not encroach on Nigeria’s sovereignty.

Initiatives such as Project Deep Blue promise to deliver results, which many in the industry are cautiously optimistic about. The near horizon seems brighter than the seas past, though there are still challenges on the way. Chiefly, building effective and meaningful relationships with effective collaboration involves tackling the uniquely human flaw of cultural differences.

We sourced this from MarSec20+: West Africa: What are the Current Security and Legal Ramifications for the Situation in the Gulf of Guinea?

Have you read about our alliances? We provide bespoke online platforms for CSOs, PFSOs, and CISOs to work with their fellow security officers in the industry. Find out about our Alliances here.