Naval forces warn Indian Ocean still dangerous

Source:Xinhua Published: 2012-9-4 9:37:00

International anti-piracy naval task forces operating in the Indian Ocean on Monday warned shippers to continue with their high security measures despite over 50 percent drop in the number of attacks in the first half of 2012.

International Maritime Bureau reported recently that piracy activity in the Indian Ocean dropped by 60 percent in the first six months of 2012 compared to the same stretch last year, from 163 incidents to 69.

It however warned that as many as 191 crew from up to 14 merchant vessels and fishing boats are still being held.

European Union Naval Force Somalia, NATO and Combined Task Force 151 (CTF 151) called on the shipping industry to continue to take anti-piracy measures despite the current downward trend in piracy events.

"We currently see a tactical and reversible success. It is of utmost importance that pressure on Somali pirates and their business model is maintained and even increased as the strategic context, the situation in Somalia allowing for pirates to act, has not yet changed," said Deputy Operation Commander Rear Admiral Gualtiero Mattesi.

He said international navies and all merchant vessels transiting the High Risk Area, need to remain vigilant and uphold their respective responsibilities to support the fight against piracy.

"There are many factors which have led to this, two of which were the work of military forces in the region and self-protection measures taken by commercial shipping," he said.

Mattesi said working together the military and the maritime industry is having a positive effect in frustrating the efforts of pirates. Despite the recent encouraging news now is not the time to lessen the efforts of all stakeholders in this area.

The drop in piracy incidents is however a relief to shipping companies using the Indian Ocean that have been target of pirates often paying heavy ransom to secure release of their vehicles and the crew.

Shipping companies have also been forced to hire private security companies to enhance the security of their vehicles, a fact that however has increased the cost of doing business.

Consumers in eastern and central Africa region have also been affected by the piracy as the cost of insurance went up because of highlighted risks, forcing importers to transfer the high insurance cost consumers.

The three task forces reinforced the call for maintenance of high security alert and investment saying that even with all the military presence in the Indian Ocean, the efforts of naval forces cannot guarantee safety in the region.

"It is for this reason that CTF 151, NATO and the EU remind all ship-owners, operators and managers to continue to educate and train their mariners in both the threat and how to mitigate it," the statement added.

International Maritime Bureau recommends all ship operators to use the anti-piracy guiding booklet known as the Best Management Practices version 4 (BMP4) that provides useful updates for masters in implementing protection measures to deter piracy that is based on lessons learned from ships' masters.

Posted in: Africa

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