India calls for joint effort to combat maritime piracy

T. E. Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on May 29, 2011 Published on May 27, 2011

Economic cost of piracy estimated at $7-12 b in 2010

In 2010, the economic cost of maritime piracy on the supply chain was estimated to be $7-12 billion, said the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) quoting the One Earth Foundation.

Piracy is a concern to any industry having to navigate through the Gulf of Aden to deliver goods by water, said the ICC, a global representative body that speaks on behalf of enterprises from all sectors in every part of the world.

For India, piracy is a serious issue as a large number of Indian seafarers work on board foreign ships that pass through the Somalia coast every day. In January, India voiced its concern on the increasing piracy at the United Nations, and proposed a five-point plan, including tracking the trail of ransom money, to curb piracy.

The Union Minister of Shipping, Mr G.K. Vasan, at the Maritime Summit 2011 at Oslo on Tuesday too highlighted India's concerns about increasing incidents of piracy and the need for concerted unified action under the UN. Ministers from 10 other countries also participated in the Summit.

Increasing attacks

The past year has witnessed an escalation in both violence and the number of attacks on ships and their crew.

According to the ICC International Maritime Bureau, there were 219 attacks in 2010 off Somalia, in which 49 vessels were hijacked and 1,016 crew members taken hostage.

Despite measures taken by the UN Security Council and the presence of naval units in the area of the Gulf of Aden, pirates continue to strike. More and more ship owners have had to resort to using private security firms to protect their seafarers and ships, according to the ICC, which launched the Call of Action on piracy at the annual International Transport Forum taking place in Leipzig, Germany.

Together with ship owners and trade associations around the world, over 20 CEOs from global shipping and trading companies have endorsed the ICC Call for Action on Piracy.

Private security

In the absence of sufficient naval support, ship owners hired private armed security to protect their seafarers and ships.

The private sector is forced to take action on its own with private security firms. The piracy problem is beyond that of only ship owners and seafarers. It is an issue that concerns global trade, the ICC said.

ICC urged the governments to immediately act to:

Improve the Rules of Engagement given to naval vessels in the area; focus on locating; shadowing and disrupting the operation of mother ships to reduce the operating scope of the pirates.

Ensure that piracy suspects are swiftly brought to justice and not sent back to Somalia without being held accountable for their crimes.

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Published on May 27, 2011
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