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EU launches naval co-operative tool to combat Gulf of Guinea's security problems

The EU is now operationally testing its concept for Co-ordinated Maritime Presences (CMP): a new co-operative tool for exchanging maritime picture data and analyses among national navies of the EU in designated areas of interest. The CMP pilot project was launched on 25 January in the Gulf of Guinea region.

“The Gulf of Guinea is an area of high interest for the EU,” Josep Borrell, the EU’s chief official for security and defence policy, told reporters via a telebriefing after a 25 January meeting of EU foreign ministers, who approved the launch. “Several [EU] member states are already present in the region and will share information and analysis at sea, while co-operating with the Gulf’s coastal countries to address the region’s increasing security problems,” he added.

A vast region with 6,000 km of coastline stretching from Senegal to Angola, the Gulf of Guinea is riddled with security problems, ranging from piracy to illegal fishing and arms trafficking. On any given day about 1,500 fishing vessels, tankers, and cargo ships navigate its waters. In 2020 alone, for example, it suffered 84 attacks on ships, with 135 seafarers kidnapped for ransom. According to the International Maritime Bureau, the region now accounts for 95% of all ransom kidnappings at sea.

“Piracy, armed robbery at sea, kidnapping of seafarers, illegal fishing, smuggling and trafficking, and transnational organised crime pose a major threat to maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea and ultimately to the economic development of the entire region,” the EU said in a statement announcing the CMP’s launch.

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