Spanish tuna operators join in anti-piracy campaign

Almirante 1, a Spanish tuna vessel in the OPAGAC fleet.

Spanish tuna operators have become the latest to sign the “Declaration of Gulf of Guinea on Suppression of Piracy” initiative that, among other things, is pushing for the deployment of a non-regional naval force to tackle rampant piracy along the 6,000-kilometer coastline extending from Senegal to Angola.

The Spanish tuna fleet, represented by the Organization of Associated Producers of Large Tuna Freezers (OPAGAC), joins more than 100 other anti-piracy campaigners, including maritime, fishing companies, organizations, and flag states,  calling for tough measures to contain the piracy menace in the Gulf of Guinea, where 82 of the 195 piracy incidents were reported globally in 2020 took place.

Armed attacks on international vessels and kidnapping incidents are impacting OPAGAC’s 29-member purse-seine fleet and auxiliary vessels that operate in the region, it said in a press release. The organization said a non-regional naval force will complement the operations against piracy by coastal states in the region.

OPAGAC Managing Director Julio Morón said deployment of a military force will help tackle the problem in the short term and support efforts to combat the crime by some countries in the region, such as Nigeria.

“Only in this way will it be possible to achieve the effective application of the law against piracy, guaranteeing the safety of the crews working in the region and avoiding the loss of investments in these countries due to the dangerous conditions at sea,” Morón said.

Previously, the European Union had expressed strong interest in aiding the fight against piracy in the Gulf of Guinea to safeguard its maritime trade. It said it would support regional and international anti-piracy initiatives and implement its own anti-piracy maritime security strategy that includes supporting capacity-building programs.

The United Nations Office on Drug and Crime has also partly attributed the rise in piracy in the Gulf of Guinea to, among other factors, gaps in the legal framework that only allows a few countries to effectively prosecute piracy.

The deficient legal framework means few successful prosecutions of piracy perpetrators, it said.

“Weak domestic justice systems and the absence of procedures for the collection as well as for the handover of evidence render effective legal action against piracy and other maritime crime unnecessarily complex," the U.N. Office on Drug and Crime said in a release.

Photo courtesy of OPAGAC


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