Securing the maritime domain against a range of threats, such as piracy, bunkering, and disruptions to the global supply chain, is a continually evolving process involving numerous variables, including geography, local laws and customs, etc. Recognizing that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to securing all major waterways from these escalating maritime-related crimes, new guidelines are emerging to improve security within specific regional waters.
In a measure to raise awareness of the potential problems of operating in the Gulf of Guinea, Maritime Asset Security and Training Ltd. (MAST) has recently developed new guidelines for ship owners “engaging in maritime security services in West Africa.” Commenting that “West Africa is a very different environment for private maritime security companies to operate in compared to the Indian Ocean,” Philip Cable, CEO of MAST, went on to explain some of the differences between the two areas, including the fact that “armed security can only be provided by the national armed forces in its own territorial waters” and how it is “illegal for private maritime security companies to carry firearms in any of the West African territorial waters and … to transit firearms through any of these countries.” Emphasizing that the Gulf of Guinea is a “very complex legal and operating environment” in which piracy attacks are on the rise, Mr. Cable believes that the “failure to understand the unique nature of West Africa puts ships and lives at risk.”
As sovereign countries address their individual laws and regulations, including those that pertain to the use of maritime security providers within their respective waters, The Mariner Group supports efforts aimed at developing maritime security-related guidelines that comply with regional laws. Moving forward, it will be necessary for the maritime industry, including shippers, insurance companies, and maritime security providers, to acknowledge the specific security requirements of individual countries and regions, including those along the Gulfs of Aden and Guinea, and to work together to develop and implement sustainable solutions to ensure the long-term stability and security of these territorial and regional waters.