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The Gulf of Guinea region recorded 78 piracy incidents and armed attacks against ships in the first half of this year, the Gulf of Guinea Commission Executive Secretary said today.
Florentine Ukonga, who was addressing the opening of the Gulf of Guinea Region Integrated Maritime Strategy Seminar, said piracy, illegal immigration, unregulated and illegal fishing and pollution continue to be part of the organization’s challenges.
According to Florentine Ukonga, besides Nigeria, Togo, Benin and Cameroon are the countries most affected by piracy.
The Gulf of Guinea Commission Executive Secretary, citing international reports, said that they indicate that 73% of all kidnappings at sea and 92% of hostage cases also occur in the Gulf of Guinea.
“Armed pirates in these high-risk areas (Gulf of Guinea) kidnapped 27 crew members in the first half of 2019 and 25 in the same period of 2018,” said Florentine Ukonga, urging Member States to step up cooperation to “seize the opportunities that were wasted by not securing this region. ”
Speaking to the press, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the Gulf of Guinea Commission, Gilberto Veríssimo, pointed to the need for common aspects of the Member States regarding aspects of the integrated maritime strategy.
“When we talk about maritime strategy, we always think about safety, but it is more than safety, and that is why we are using the term of integration, because the issue related to the environment must also be considered,” he said.
Gilberto Veríssimo exemplified that Angola, one of the eight Member States, cannot consider its environment without those of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo or Gabon, because the waste released to the sea comes to the Lusophone country “and there is no nor is there any patrol boat that can stop this. ”
Regarding the question of fisheries control, the official stressed that marine species migrate from one region to another, so “we cannot talk about fish from Angola or Gabon”.
“We, for example, here in the region eat tuna, but there is no country in the region that fishes for tuna, because it is industrial fishing, so how can we solve this kind of situation? It is one of the issues that the national strategy of any country has to consider beyond security aspects, ”he said.
Marine pollution is also one of the problems affecting the region due to the lack of control of its coast, said Gilberto Veríssimo, noting that “a lot of people from other regions come to throw toxic waste.
“And it affects security because there are fewer fish, when there are fewer fish fishermen are unable to do so and easily become mobilized for other activities such as sea piracy, which will not seek people from elsewhere. It is our people who are used to do sea piracy, ”he said.
Gilberto Veríssimo said that the level of piracy, which mainly affects Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon and Togo, is still worrying because of the direct relationship between the environment in those countries and piracy.