Piracy at sea should be eliminated

 Interview of CAPT BJORN HOJGAARD, Hong Kong-based CEO of world’s leading shipping company and a major employer of Indian merchant navy officers, Anglo-Eastern Univan Group.

 

What steps are essential to fight the menace of armed robbery and piracy at sea through global cooperation? Pls explain in-depth.

If armed robbery and piracy at sea only involved ill-gotten gains that would be one thing, but more often than not innocent seafarers are caught in the thick of things, their lives and safety put at undue risk. Often held up or taken at gunpoint for ransom, violence is not uncommon and on the rise in increasingly sophisticated attacks aimed at merchant vessels. This is particularly true in the Gulf of Guinea, which last year accounted for more than 95% of the world’s pirate attacks and kidnappings.

The situation is wholly unacceptable and needs to stop. Seafarers keep the global supply chains moving, and in doing so, they work in one of the most challenging, dangerous, and remote environments and professions. Not surprisingly, shipping ranks amongst the highest for mental health issues, and with the additional strain and hardship caused by Covid-19 and crew relief difficulties, it does not get any easier.

 

Yet unlike nearly any other profession in the world, seafarers must also live in fear of violence and kidnapping as a workplace safety issue. How can the most vital profession to the global economy and world trade be dealt the cruellest and most unjust hand? How much more can seafarers shoulder? Of greater urgency, how can armed robbery and piracy at sea be eliminated?

 

Regional cooperation amongst states is key. The regional anti-piracy and armed robbery agreement served to reduce incidents in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, to which IMO provided (and continues to provide) assistance throughout the development and implementation process. The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) is a good model of a cohesive and successful regional cooperation structure, and this should be developed fast in all areas where this risk is imminent.

 

In recent years, particular focus has been placed on piracy and armed robbery at sea in the Gulf of Aden and the wider Western Indian Ocean, and increasingly the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa. While progress has been made recently in some regions to eradicate piracy, armed robbery and other illicit maritime activities, ships are urged to remain vigilant when navigating through these regions, since the threat of piracy is not ‘eliminated’

Source: Piracy at sea should be eliminated (aajkaaldaily.com)

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