The drop in Gulf of Guinea piracy does not mean shipping can let its guard down, the head of a Nigerian maritime security provider said.

Bassey Adie, managing director at Lagos-based Loyz Marine Services, said piracy incidents in the West African waters have dropped precipitously since 2020 thanks to collaboration between government and private security providers.

“One may look at the stats and say it’s reduced, it’s gone. No, it’s not,” said Adie, whose firm operates a fleet of eight security vessels. “If you stop protecting, then there’s the risk it will come.”

The Gulf of Guinea was at one point deemed by maritime security observers as the world’s piracy hotspot, with 132 incidents in 2020, with 135 crew members abducted from their ships according to International Maritime Bureau statistics.

That number has dropped to just 14 in the first half of 2023, only two of which were near Lagos, Adie said.

“This is not to say that my job security has miraculously gone away but this is to show you the level of work that is taking place behind the scenes from the government, the Nigerian Navy and, of course, collaborating with private maritime security companies to ensure that risk management is prioritized,” she said.

On the government side, part of the effort to curb piracy came in the form of the $195m Deep Blue Project from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency to better monitor the country’s waterways.

The project was rolled out in 2021 and had immediate effectiveness, with the government declaring it a success just weeks after it began.

Adie said the project was helpful, but that it was not the silver bullet solution as the private sector is still necessary.

The apparent effectiveness of the program pushed the Nigerian government to argue the war risk premium assessed to ships operating in the Gulf of Guinea should be removed — a move Adie agreed with.

“I don't see why there shouldn't be changes to that risk [premiums for] coming into Nigeria,” she said, nothing the world has seen the high level of collaboration to combat piracy.