Shippers vs. Pirates: Don’t Let Your Guard Down
February 20, 2012
While mainstream media reports suggest that open seas piracy has decreased, shipping experts note that the crisis is worse than ever.
When the Board of Directors of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) – whose member national shipowners’ associations represent all sectors and trades and over 80 percent of the world merchant fleet – met in London recently one message was made very clear: don’t let your guard down.
ICS members reviewed the continuing threat to shipping from Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean. Noting that the capability of Somali pirates is actually higher than it has ever been, ICS believes that effective compliance with Best Management Practices by shipping, and sustained military intervention with a more aggressive stance, has reduced the pirates’ rate of success. However, the current situation remains totally unacceptable, with about 200 seafarers still being held hostage in the most appalling conditions, with thousands more still having to transit the danger area in constant fear of their lives.
ICS national associations agreed to work to ensure that the problem of piracy retains sufficient political and public attention so that the crisis might be properly and decisively addressed during the year ahead.
ICS Chairman, Spyros M Polemis explained:
“Recent press reports might give the impression that the level of piracy off Somalia is decreasing. However, most ship operators will be aware that this is not an accurate representation of the current situation. The ICS Board has therefore identified three specific immediate objectives:
We need to persuade governments to task the military to take the attack direct to the pirates, while at the same time continuing to defend merchant ships in the best way possible. Second, every apprehended pirate should be arrested, taken to a court of law and, if found guilty, imprisoned. Thirdly, governments must break the financial chain through legal action against criminal financiers investing in piracy wherever in the world they are identified.”
ICS welcomed the international conference on Somalia that will be hosted by the United Kingdom on February 23, and agreed that its member national shipowners’ associations will lobby their governments hard, in advance of the international conference, with respect to the three key objectives identified by ICS
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