MM&D MAGAZINE, SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011 PRINT EDITION: Since the crisis off the coast of Somalia began to escalate in 2008, more than 3,000 seafarers have so far been kidnapped and held for ransom, enduring months of captivity in appalling conditions. The financial cost to the shipping industry has rapidly escalated with ransom payments rising—in one case reportedly approaching US$10 million for a single ship and its crew.
Piracy is already estimated to cost the global economy US$12 billion a year. If more companies divert their ships around the Cape of Good Hope, this will have an ever greater impact on inventories and costs throughout the whole supply chain.
The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), which represents shipowner associations in 36 countries, is frustrated that governments in those nations with the largest military navies in the region are showing little willingness to increase resources enough to actually stem the problem. The ICS claims many governments appear to be tolerating the current level of piracy.
The organization, in conjunction with seafarers’ unions, is spearheading a “Save our Seafarers” (SOS) campaign. The campaign seeks to raise awareness of the human and economic costs of piracy and increase the political will to tackle the problem. It asks governments to take a firmer stance on piracy by prioritizing six key actions:
Reducing the effectiveness of the easily-identifiable pirate motherships.
Authorizing naval forces to hold pirates and deliver them for prosecution and punishment.
Fully criminalizing all acts of piracy and intent to commit piracy under national laws, in accordance with their mandatory duty to co-operate to suppress piracy under international conventions.
Increasing naval assets available in this area.
Providing greater protection and support for seafarers.
Tracing and criminalizing the organizers and financiers behind the criminal networks.
For more information about the campaign visit: www.saveourseafarers.com.