All is now set for the Maritime Reporters’ Association of Nigeria (MARAN) annual lecture on the insecurity plaguing the maritime sector of the economy.
The lecture is coming on the heels of the recent resurgence of piracy incidents and security threats in the country as well as the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) in the first half of year.
Scheduled to hold on 24th of October 2023, the lecture is expected to bring stakeholders from far and near under one roof. These include the Nigerian Navy, regional navies, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), and shipping lines.
Others expected at the epoch making event are terminal operators, Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), ship owners and seafarers’ organisations.
The President of MARAN, Mr. Godfrey Bivbere who disclosed this in a statement in Lagos revealed that the association which remains the umbrella body of journalists covering maritime industry in the last three decades is dedicating the maiden edition of the lecture this year maritime security.
He disclosed that the inaugural edition of the lecture with the theme “Maritime Security: Emerging Threats and Actionable Steps” was targeted at what he called “proffering long-term, sustainable solutions” that will effectively address maritime crimes in the GoG region and protect seafaring and fishing communities in the affected countries.
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) report of July 2023 confirmed that the GoG witnessed a surge in maritime incidents in 2023, with five incidents in the first quarter and nine in the second quarter.
Out of these, 12 were classified as armed robberies and two as piracy, predominantly targeting anchored vessels in the region.
According to the IMB report, in these incidences, 14 crew members were kidnapped, of which 8 were taken from vessels anchored within the GoG territorial waters.
Additionally, in two separate hijackings, 31 crew members were held hostage, communication and navigation equipment were destroyed, and partial cargoes were stolen. One of these incidents also involved the abduction of 6 crew members.
The statement which was made available to Maritime Bits quoted Bivbere pointing out that MARAN, as the foremost umbrella body of journalists covering the Nigerian maritime sector, had identified and commended the collaborative initiatives and efforts of the Nigerian Navy.
He noted that the initiatives which was in partnership with other security agencies, NIMASA, other regional navies and maritime administrations led to a significant reduction in piracy incidents on Nigerian waters and the GoG throughout 2022.
According to the MARAN President, to a large extent, the establishment of the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum for the Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (GOG-MCF/SHADE) had enabled stakeholders within and outside the region to connect and discuss frequently on how best to tackle piracy in the area and these yielded verifiable results.
He noted that the effective deployment of Naval assets, warships, Falcon Eye, the Deep Blue Project assets, establishment of the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime-related Offences Act 2019, among others are worthwhile accomplishments attributable to the Nigerian Navy in recent years.
He, however, said there was the need for consolidated efforts that would be explored at the summit.
His words: “With the recent decision of China to join in the international anti-piracy effort in the Gulf of Guinea, the annual lecture this year will also dissect the continuous presence of foreign navy frigates in the region for an evaluation of the positive impact and perceived threats. Following the recent extension of Nigerian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from 200 Nautical Miles to 350 Nautical Miles, MAMAL 2023 will be highlighting the capability of the Nigerian Navy and other agencies in providing adequate security for the zone”.