Nautilus calls for Gulf of Guinea action

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Nautilus International has expressed concern about the seizure of a master and chief engineer officer from an offshore support vessel operating in the Gulf of Guinea.

The two men – both reported to be US citizens – were taken from the US-owned platform supply vessel C-Retriever off the Nigerian coast in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The US-flagged vessel, owned by Edison Chouest, was working off Brass, Nigeria.

Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson said the incident highlighted the urgent need for action to prevent west African piracy from deteriorating further. While piracy off Somalia has declined significantly over the past year, new figures from the International Maritime Bureau reveal that there were more than 40 attacks officially recorded in the Gulf of Guinea during the first nine months of this year, with 132 crew taken hostage and seven vessels hijacked.

“There are good grounds for believing that the real total of attacks is much higher, as the under-reporting and non-reporting in the region is notorious,” Mr Dickinson said.

“This latest case underlines the pressing need for action to improve security in the area before it becomes a no-go zone,” he added. “The problem is acute, complex and reaches beyond the seafarers and shipowners. European maritime unions and shipowners recently set out ways in which the toolbox developed to deal with piracy off Somalia could be adapted for west Africa, and it is high time we saw some meaningful response to this. Governments must not wait until we have significant loss of life or an environmental disaster before they give seafarers the protection they deserve.”

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