Liberia Maritime Commissioner Wants Regional Maritime’s Institutions Enhance the Fight against Pirates and Other Crimes at Sea
Lenn Eugene Nagbe, the Commissioner and CEO Liberia Maritime Authority says the Government of Liberia shares the global concerns on maritime security, especially incidents of piracy.
Speaking at the BIMCO World Shipping Council recently, Mr. Nagbe said Liberia remains actively involved in efforts to maintain maritime security, specifically in the Gulf of Guinea,
“We are now at a critical point in combatting this scourge,” he said.
He stressed that there is a need to curtail piracy and general criminal activities in the Gulf of Guinea. According to him, the menace can be effectively mitigated and contained.
Giving stats, Maritime boss revealed that the 2020 data on incidents in the Gulf of Guinea is alarming. According to him, there have been approximately 136 reported incidents of piracy in the region in 2020.
Despite the high number in 2020, Commissioner Nagbe said the Gulf of Guinea bi-annual report for the first half of 2021 reported 38 incidents in the region, indicating a drastic decrease in piracy incidents.
“In spite of this decrease in the number of piracy incidents, the Gulf of Guinea remains a hotbed for kidnapping, hijacking and other criminal activities. For instance, we would have reported to you two days ago, that since the beginning of 2021, 40 crew have been kidnapped from vessels, and one seafarer was unfortunately killed,” he said.
Commissioner Nagbe added: “However, just yesterday, one of our own, a Liberian-flagged vessel was attacked by pirates. Six members of the crew were taken as hostages. This is an ongoing problem in West African waters not only to states that share the same waters in which pirates carry out these nefarious crimes; but to the global community and international trade and industry. Hence, we must all cooperate and coordinate to combat this issue.”
The Maritime boss further stated that the efforts in combatting and hopefully eradicating the menace need a hand-in-hand approach with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and regional partners, as well as, the international maritime industry, and multinational naval and security forces.
“My country is a proud member of ECOWAS, and it is through ECOWAS that we are putting into action our leading position as a global maritime nation. Liberia has the world’s second largest merchant fleet with over 4,800 vessels at 210 million total gross tons, which equates to over 13% of the world’s fleet,” Liberia Maritime boss said.
He added: “This provides us with the unique advantage in the Gulf of Guinea region of having local understanding of this sensitive issue, whilst at the same time possessing a global context to it. We are at the heart of the matter geographically, as well as strategically. Therefore, we have taken a leadership role regarding this crisis as we look to decrease the number of incidents; increase the ability for the vessels trading in these waters to protect themselves, and deter future incidents.”
In 2019, Liberia and other West African countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for joint maritime operations in the ECOWAS maritime zone.
Commissioner Nagbe says Liberia remains committed to the collaboration, coordination and pooling of resources for collective security and safety in the region.
Liberia, through its Ship Registry has rallied maritime stakeholders, and signed the Gulf of Guinea Declaration on Suppression of Piracy and has provided an essential link between West Africa, the international community, and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the Liberia Maritime boss said.