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Protection Vessels International: Weekly Maritime Security Report

South East Asia

China: Robbers board carrier at Jingtang Anchorage

29 January

Two robbers wearing masks reportedly boarded an anchored ore carrier at Jingtang port in Tangshan. The robbers were seen lowering hoses and escaping from the quarter deck. Crew raised the alarm at 0055 hrs local time after noticing an unlit barge alongside the carrier. On searching the ship, crew noticed oil stains near the MDO tank sounding pipe. No items were reported stolen.

PGI Analysis: Robberies are intermittently reported at Jingtang port, although many incidents are likely to go unreported. Robbers often target vessels at anchorages overnight to take advantage of low visibility, underscoring the need for vigilance at all times when anchored in the region.

West Africa

Nigeria: Robbers board tanker vessel in Lagos Anchorage

4 February

Two robbers boarded a merchant tanker vessel at Lagos anchorage in Nigeria. The robbers approached the Singapore-flagged vessel in a canoe and boarded the ship during a ship-to-ship operation with another tanker. Security personnel aboard the tanker spotted the robbers and sounded the alarm. The robbers reportedly jumped into the sea upon hearing the alarm. It is not clear if any items were stolen.

PGI Analysis: The threat of piracy to vessels docked or waiting to berth at Lagos is low, and incidents within the area are intermittently reported. Criminals typically target vessels waiting in the port complex where security is poor and theft, robberies and unauthorised boardings are regularly reported. Assailants are sometimes armed and can use force to intimidate crew into giving in to their demands.

Select Maritime News

Algeria: Security forces kill Tunisian fisherman near Tabarka

01 February

Algerian security forces shot dead a Tunisian fisherman on a vessel with two other individuals in Algerian territorial waters at around 1030 hrs local time near Tabarka, Tunisian officials said. The officials said that the fishermen received warning shots before they were fired upon. Initial reports did not confirm further details about the incident.

Brazil: Authorities seize 1 tonne of cocaine at Paranagua port

28 January

Authorities seized 1 tonne of cocaine hidden in two containers loaded with wood at Paranagua port, Parana state. Authorities found the narcotics during a routine inspection at the port. Customs agents said that the latest cocaine seizure was the third of 2019, totalling 2.9 tonnes of cocaine seized. The shipment was destined for Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

Cameroon: Security forces board oil tanker at Limbe port

03 February

Cameroonian security forces reportedly boarded and seized the Singaporean company EPS-operated oil tanker Barents Sea at the Limbe port. Security forces arrested 26 crewmembers on board the tanker, EPS reported. The incident occurred during discharge operations at the Sonara refinery. The seizure came amid a commercial dispute between EPS and the Cameroonian maritime services company DSC Marine. EPS accused the owner of DSC Marine, Jules Famawa, of illegally acquiring the help of the Cameroonian navy to seize the vessel.

Cape Verde: Police seize 9.5 tonnes of cocaine from vessel at Praia port

01 February

Police seized 9.5 tonnes of cocaine from a Russian vessel docked at Praia port, officials said. Authorities arrested 11 members of the vessel’s crew. The vessel was travelling to Morocco from South Africa. Cape Verde is situated on key drug trafficking routes between Latin America and Europe and West Africa.

China: Hong Kong customs seize record pangolin scales haul bound for Vietnam

01 February

Hong Kong customs intercepted a large endangered species smuggling operation from Africa, seizing a record quantity of pangolin scales along with more than 1,000 ivory tusks. The value of the seized goods – which equates to around 500 elephants and up to 13,000 pangolins – was more than USD 7.9 mn, officials said. Media reports did not specify where the seizure took place. Originating in Nigeria, the shipment was reportedly bound for Vietnam. Hong Kong is a key regional transit point for wildlife trafficking. In a separate incident, customs officials in the northern Vietnamese port of Hai Phong discovered another 1.4 tonnes of pangolin scales in a shipping container sent from Nigeria on 31 January.

Italy: Authorities seize 1.9 tonnes of cocaine at Genoa port

31 January

Italian and Spanish police seized 1.9 tonnes of cocaine in a container without declared cargo from South America at the port of Genoa. One individual, allegedly the intended recipient of the cargo, was arrested in Barcelona briefly after the seizure in Genoa.

Italy: Coastguard vessel blocks departure of migrant ship in Catania

01 February

The coastguard blocked migrant rescue vessel Sea-Watch 3 in Catania over environmental and safety concerns. The move delayed the vessel’s plans to return to patrolling the Libyan coast. A spokesperson for the vessel said that the block was a deliberate political move. The incident comes days after the vessel won a standoff with Italian authorities and was allowed to disembark 47 migrants at Catania on 19 January. Italy’s government blocked ports to activist vessels in 2018, calling for all EU partners to accept a proportion of migrants.

Japan: Coastguard arrests Chinese fishing boat captain off Hahajima

02 February

A Chinese fishing boat captain has been arrested in waters close to Japan, Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported. The captain was detained by the Japanese coastguard on suspicion of violating Japan’s fishing rights and trying to avoid inspection in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, about 300 km southeast of Hahajima. The boat, containing the captain and ten crew members, reportedly turned and sped off when the coastguard vessel from Yokohama sounded a siren and issued instructions to stop. The Japanese boat went in pursuit and after a 30 km chase, the Chinese vessel was forced to stop. The incident is the latest case of Chinese fishermen being arrested by Japanese authorities.

Philippines: Authorities seize used luxury vehicle, truck at MICP in Manila

31 January

Authorities seized a used Bentley car and diesel engines aboard a 40-foot container at Manila International Container Port (MICP). The seized items had an estimated value of USD 231,680. Authorities received information that the shipment contained smuggled merchandise on 9 January, though authorisation to formally seize the items was only secured on 31 January. The shipment was reportedly declared as containing a used forklift, diesel engines and other household items. Import entry records showed that the shipment originated from Japan and arrived at the MICP on 17 December 2018. Information related to the seizure was not previously disclosed. In line with a directive in early 2018 from President Roderigo Duterte, the Philippine Customs Bureau has been destroying seized luxury vehicles to send a message to wealthy car owners who do not pay applicable import duties.

Puerto Rico: Authorities seize 400 kg of cocaine off north coast

29 January

Customs officials seized 400 kg of cocaine from an abandoned boat off Puerto Rico’s north coast near Loiza. Authorities found the narcotics after spotting a suspicious boat travelling south toward Puerto Rico, customs officials said. Authorities suspect the boat arrived from an unidentified foreign country, given the type of food products found inside of it.

The Bahamas: Sunken boat kills 28 migrants off Bahamas

03 February

Bahamian authorities said that 28 people were killed when a boat carrying migrants sunk at an undisclosed location off the Bahamas. Authorities said that the boat appeared to be a US vessel engaged in the smuggling of illegal Haitian migrants but did not immediately disclose further information about the incident. Authorities rescued 17 other migrants from nearby waters. Bahamian authorities have apprehended at least 300 Haitian nationals accused of people smuggling since the beginning of 2019.

Vietnam: Authorities seize 1.4 tonnes of pangolin scales, 20 elephant tusks in Hai Phong

31 January

Authorities seized nearly 1.4 tonnes of pangolin scales and 20 elephant tusks weighing more than 100 kg in a 20-foot container at Lach Huyen port in Hai Phong city, Vietnam News Agency quoted the customs forces as saying. The container was reportedly sent from Nigeria and was registered as carrying timber. Trade in ivory and pangolin is illegal in Vietnam, but wildlife trafficking remains widespread. Wildlife seizures in Vietnam are infrequent but usually large.

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Source: Protection Vessels International Ltd

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