New strategy to protect fishing vessels in the gulf of Guinea

Multi-layered approach deters criminals and prevents unwanted boarding.

Westmark BV, has recently performed a test in which passive non-lethal equipment served in a multi-layered strategy to protect fishing crews from the threat of  robbery at sea. Until now fishing vessels operating in high risk areas have been virtually unprotected. Due to low freeboard, low speed, these vessels are a vulnerable target for 
heavily armed criminals. Employing armed guards is not an option for these fishing boats. 
During a recent experiment in Dutch waters (Haringvliet) Westmark equipped a fishing vessel 
with a multi-layered strategy to protect the vessel using two barriers of passive non-lethal 
equipment against sea criminals.

Pirate Trap

One barrier that took the test is the P-Trap anti-piracy system, the other barrier involved a 
sound cannon used in an innovative way. The successful trial showed that the operation of 
fishing gear is not affected by the safety spread of trailing lines connected to the P-Trap. Prior 
to this test the system has served on board the fishing vessel for an entire week, in which it was 
put to the test during heavy storms on the North Sea. 
The P-Trap system is operated alongside the vessel with a safety spread of multiple protective 
lines in the water on both sides of the vessel. The propeller of a hostile vessel within boarding 
range entangled in the lines during their attack. Its engine will stall as a result of this, and the 
intruder will not be able to continue its attack, meaning that pirates cannot climb aboard.

Sound cannon

A sound cannon test also demonstrated the usefulness of having multiple barriers to prevent 
unwanted boarding. The patented penetrating sound tones discourage intruders from coming 
too close to the vessel. The powerful sound is so irritating and potentially damaging that it 
discourages the attacking vessel in its approach. 
Combination of technical barriers Piracy and maritime crime is not only a problem in the East or West Africa. There are several hot spots in the world that deal with these criminals activities. Passive non-lethal anti-piracy 
solutions form the basis of protection and can be operated in conjunction with other equipment 
seafarer’s use in their daily operations on board. Crews of small vessels need protection and 
their functionality depends on the safe overall movement of freight by ships.

The combination of legal techniques, such as P-Trap and sound cannons, is currently being
tested on vessels in the Gulf of Guinea, where maritime criminal activity has intensified
in recent years. These sustainable protection solutions will serve as a basis for owners of 
fishing fleets to protect the safety of their seafarers, while allowing fishing in this area in an 
economically viable way, and setting the stage for testing several barriers to prevent unwanted

Dutch marine specialist Westmark developed the P -Trap anti-boarding solution and has 
installed systems on multiple vessel types (e.g. dredging, transport, heavy cargo vessels, as well 
as chemical tankers and small coasters). With the successful test of a multi-layered strategy on 
board small fishing vessels the company proves that its solutions can be used for protecting 
every vessel, irrespective of its functionality and size. 

P-Trap has been shortlisted for the Lloyd’s List Global Awards, Seatrade Awards 2011, and was 
also named winner in the Security category at the 5th annual Safety at Sea International Awards
held in 2011.