Tackle piracy to protect the global supply chain

6 January 2012

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7 January 2012 | Helen Gilbert

The UK government is failing to take the threat of ocean piracy and the devastating impact it can have on supply chains seriously, a maritime union has warned.

Nautilus International told SM that while incidents in Somalia had highlighted the growing problem, there is a distinct “gap” between government rhetoric and actual action.

The union’s comments follow publication of the Foreign Affairs Committee Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, in which the concerns of the union were also highlighted.

The organisation, which represents maritime professionals at sea and ashore, warned that the ease with which very large vessels were being hijacked served as an advertisement to terrorists and criminals and raised serious wider questions about the security of shipping and global supply chains.

A spokesman for Nautilus International told SM that 80 to 90 per cent of world trade is transported by sea. “The underlying worry, with the backdrop of terrorism, is the fact that half a dozen blokes can take over giant super tankers with a multi million dollar cargo,” he said. “We think that should be sending out alarm signals and be taken far more seriously by government and companies than it is.
“The Somali problem has put more focus on it but a lot of the time we think it’s lip service rather than genuine action that’s being taken…there’s a gap between the rhetoric and actual action.”

The spokesman flagged up numerous attacks in the Gulf of Aden, in which a huge percentage of oil trade passes through. He said some ships were diverting around the Cape because of the threat of piracy, which was adding to voyage lengths and creating additional cost.
“There would certainly be the concern of knock on costs for everyone in the supply chain and consumers,” he said.

The Committee report asserted that maritime crime would "become very lucrative” and stated that the Security Association for the Maritime Industry would “establish the structure for private maritime security to manage this problem effectively and professionally”.

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