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The European Union (EU) has extended its naval presence in the Gulf of Guinea under the auspices of the Commercial Maritime Presence (CMP) until February 2024.

According to the Ambassador of France to Nigeria, Emmanuelle Blatman, the extension was to allow ECOWAS strengthen its anti-piracy mechanism to curtail pirate attacks against commercial vessels in the Gulf of Guinea.

The decision to extend the CMP scheme is coming on the heels of the successes recorded by the initiative that has reduced more than 80% of pirate attacks against commercial vessels in the Gulf of Guinea.

She further advised that the mechanism to be deployed by ECOWAS must involve apprehension at sea, legal finish and imprisonment.

Moreover, Ms. Blatman stated that the introduction of new patterns, both innovative and economically viable, can only be achieved if maritime routes are secure, pointing out that these routes cover huge areas where seafarers and goods must be safe for trade to happen.

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One incident of armed robbery against ships in Asia was reported from 6-12 September.

The incident occurred on board a barge towed by a tug boat on 7 September 22 at approximately 3.5 nm southeast of Tanjung Piai, West Johor (Malaysia), in the precautionary area of the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) in the Singapore Strait.

With this incident, a total of 38 incidents were reported since January 2022 in the SS; comprising 24 incidents in eastbound lane of TSS, eight incidents in precautionary area, three incidents in westbound lane, two incidents outside TSS, and one in the separation zone.

The continued occurrence of incidents in the Singapore Strait (SS). An Incident Alert (IA 03/2022) was issued on 1 Aug 22 to alert the shipping community, urge littoral States to increase patrols and enforcement, and advise all ships to intensify vigilance when transiting the area

What is more, during August a total of 6 incidents of armed robbery took place, and no piracy incident.

In addition, there was no incident of abduction of crew for ransom in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and waters off Eastern Sabah in August 2022. The last known incident occurred on 17 January 2020.

The threat of abduction of crew, however, remains potentially high due to the presence of remnants of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the area of Sulu and nearby waters off Tawi-Tawi.

Recommendations

Ship master and crew to report all incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships to the nearest coastal State and flag State, exercise vigilance and adopt appropriate preventive measures taking reference from the Regional Guide 2 to Counter Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia.

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Four fishermen were injured after the Panama-registered tanker ship “Global Peak” hit a fishing vessel off the Cochin coast, on 22 September.

The fishing vessel was carrying 13 crew members onboard, when it was hit the ship in the rear. There were no casualties, but some sustained minor injuries.

What is more, the fishermen informed that the foreign ship’s crew members did not offer any assistance following the incident and that local fishermen, who were a witness to the accident from another vessel, rescued them and gathered details of the foreign tanker.

The police reportedly registered a case on the complaint filed by the fishing boat owner named Ali Akbar.

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At least 25 people were killed and dozens were missing after a boat sank on September 25, in Bangladesh, marking the worst waterways disaster to hit the country in over a year.

According to Jahurul Islam, district administrator of northern Panchagarh, a rescue operation for those missing is ongoing, adding that the ferry was taking mostly devotees to a Hindu temple on the occasion of Mahalaya.

The exact number of people missing is not known, but passengers said more than 70 people had been on the boat.

As the police said, about 20 people were still missing while some of the passengers managed to swim ashore or were rescued.

In a similar accident last year, 34 people died after an overcrowded ferry collided with a cargo vessel and sank on the Shitalakhsya River outside the capital Dhaka.