The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is the principal international trade association for shipowners, concerned with all regulatory, operational and legal issues, as well as employment affairs. The membership of ICS comprises national shipowners’ associations representing all sectors and trades from 37 countries, covering more than 80% of the world merchant fleet.
Preventing Piracy (extract)
Piracy and armed robbery continue to be a major threat to shipping, with the ICC International Maritime Bureau recording some 250 incidents during 2015, many of them serious, with many others probably going unrecorded.
However, the focus of recent attention has shifted away from the Indian Ocean to West Africa, while the majority of incidents (though mostly lower level) are now being reported in South East Asia. Most of the incidents in West Africa are occurring off the coast of Nigeria, as well as Benin, Ghana, and Togo.
Many have been motivated by theft (including entire oil cargoes) and some have been characterised by disturbingly high levels of violence. Cases of kidnapping for ransom are becoming more common, with at least 20 seafarers taken hostage in West Africa during 2015, and 5 more taken hostage during a single attack in March 2016.
Unlike Somalia, the nations in the Gulf of Guinea region have functioning governments and security forces, although the level of protection so far provided has been inadequate. But most of the attacks occur within territorial waters.
There is therefore little prospect of foreign navies becoming involved, even if the resources were available.
However, the Maritime Trade Information Sharing Centre for the Gulf of Guinea, located in Ghana, is now providing a focal point for information on countering maritime crime in the region. Ship operators are also encouraged to take account of industry Guidelines (published jointly by ICS, BIMCO, Intercargo and Intertanko), providing comprehensive advice on avoiding and deterring armed attacks off West Africa.