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News: Increasing piracy attacks at Guayaquil, Ecuador

11 November 2020

With its strategically located position along the Guayas River, the Ecuadorian capital of Guayaquil plays an important role in the region handling most of the country’s seaborne trade. Guayaquil port has in recent years undergone a modernisation and upgrade program following significant financial investment. These developments have not however resulted in a more safe and secure environment with foreign ships, moored along the port’s quays or transiting its narrow river passages, said to be easy targets for local criminal gangs. Whilst Ecuador has not traditionally been known as a hotspot of global piracy, the number and maliciousness of recent attacks on vessels has led the IMB to issue a warning to vessels transiting the river passage at Guayaquil, Ecuador.

The warning comes after a spate of incidents involving armed robbers approaching and boarding vessels including those under pilotage. Most incidents are reported to have taken place during night time between the sea buoy and the channel entry and/or exit. Tactics employed by criminals including firing at vessels in order to distract the crew and allow drugs to be smuggled on board notably in containers.
In an effort to combat these activities, the Ecuadorian navy has increased its patrolling in the channel with military boats. In addition, the port authority is said to be implementing a policy of allowing armed navy personnel or private armed guards on board those vessels that have been impacted to date and vessels whose discharge ports are known as a destination ports in the illicit drug trade. The club understands that suitable permits must be obtained for such arrangements and will be done one a case by case basis with the authorities.
Members trading in this region are urged to maintain a vigilant anti-piracy watch and take precautionary measures in line with BMP guidance. All attacks and suspicious sightings should be reported to local authorities and to the IMB.

IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC) - contact details
Tel: +60 3 2078 5763/ +60 3 2031 0287 / +60 3 2031 3106
24 hours Anti-Piracy Helpline: +60 3 2031 0014 (Manned 24 Hrs everyday)
Fax: +60 3 2078 5769
E-mail: /

The club would like to thank Roberto Barriga Maldonado of Larrea Canessa Barriga Abogados based in Guayaquil, Ecuador, for his contribution to this news item.