Piracy: Time for the international community to act
May 06, 2011
The statistics for piracy and armed robbery at sea in the first quarter of 2011 are the highest ever recorded. At a recent anti-piracy conference in Dubai, Maersk Line said it is time for the international community to act.
In the last six months, the ‘piracy zone’ of the Indian Ocean has almost quadrupled in size; where once it reached out 600 nautical miles off the coast of East Africa, it now extends to the tip of India.
This means that vessel crews could face five days or more in pirate-infested waters.
“It is completely unacceptable that the crews onboard Maersk Line vessels are exposed to piracy. The general consensus that we share with our officers is that piracy is a growing concern, but there is simply not enough being done about it internationally,” stated Maersk Line’s Chief Operating Officer, Morten H. Engelstoft.
“The safety of our seafarers is by far the most critical concern for Maersk Line. Urgent and effective action needs to be taken now because seafarers and vessels are being attacked every day,” added Morten H. Engelstoft.
The consequences of piracy not only impact the shipping industry, but deteriorate the stability of Somalia and other East and Central African countries and therefore pose a credible risk to the entire region.
The environment also suffers as a result of piracy. Higher speed is one of the most important factors in evading pirate attacks (‘safety first’ means slow steaming in pirate-affected waters is not an option) and this adds somewhere in the region of one million extra tons of CO2 emissions — and that is a very conservative estimate.
Those also paying a significant price of piracy are the African people in the region, where piracy jeopardises the supply of food and consumables and worsens export conditions — suffocating economic development.
At the end of April, the United Arab Emirates hosted the high-level conference ‘Global Threat, Regional Responses: Forging a Common Approach to Maritime Piracy’. The conference was attended by senior political figures from more than 60 countries as well as a wealth of representation from industry including Maersk Line. The outcome was a 13-point declaration and a joint industry statement which supports the ongoing efforts of the United Nations and other organisations that seek to address the root causes of piracy.
The statement also proposes further measures — including an increased military presence, shadowing of and potential engagement with pirate ‘mother ships’, and sharing of real-time piracy information with industry — to be taken up by the international community in tackling piracy.
“Piracy is not something that the shipping lines can or should solve alone; the international community needs to take the lead and step up its response,” said Morten H. Engelstoft.
“The wide level of representation at the conference in Dubai shows worldwide agreement on the need for both effective, short-term measures to counter piracy today complemented by a long-term strategy towards stabilising Somalia in the future,” stated Morten H. Engelstoft.
Maersk Line will continue to work with international partners and organisations in the effort to find solutions to the issues.