In January, Nigerian-based pirates seized the MV Mozart, a large Liberian-flagged container ship heading to Cape Town, South Africa, from Lagos, Nigeria, as the ship sailed close to Sao Tome’s maritime border. Fifteen abducted officers and crew members were released in February after the shipping company paid a ransom, but one sailor died in the assault.
The attack was one of nearly 70 incidents that occurred during the first half of 2021. That’s a decrease over the same period in 2020, but the number of kidnapped sailors continues to be a concern, and remains at close to the highest level seen in the past decade, according to the International Maritime Bureau.
Piracy might be pervasive, but it remains geographically restricted. Nearly half of these pirate attacks and attempted attacks in 2021, including the one on the MV Mozart, occurred in and around the Gulf of Guinea.
Our research shows that contested maritime boundaries are partly driving the location of sea piracy. Here’s why.
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Associated Minerva-funded article: Maritime Law Enforcement in the Indo-Pacific: Building Capacity to Confront Militia Groups and Maritime Crime