IMB urges vigilance off the Somalia coast


As the monsoon season in the north-western Indian Ocean starts subsiding and the weather once again becomes conducive to the operation of small pirate skiffs, the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has urged ship masters not to be complacent when transiting the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

It has called for vessels to remain alert and apply Best Management Practices (BMP), including its reporting requirements, when transiting the area.

Overall this year, attacks in this maritime area have fallen to 10, a trend attributed to the vital action of naval vessels engaged in anti-piracy operations, compliance with the BMP and the use of professional security teams on board.

Ashore in Somalia, the government in Mogadishu, which has been in power for the last 12 months, has provided a stabilising influence – something that has been missing for decades.
“Naval forces continue to play a key role in the response against piracy in this area from the collection of intelligence on identification and disarming of suspected pirate vessels before they pose a threat to ships. It is vital they remain until the situation improves ashore so that piracy is no longer a viable option for the criminals,” IMB director Pottengal Mukundan said.
“Although attacks off Somalia have fallen we should not forget the desperate plight of the 64 crew currently held in Somalia, 38 of whom have been there for over two years,” he added.

The call to remain vigilant follows a bold statement by a senior researcher from the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa that piracy will always remain a threat and can never be conquered.

Johan Potgieter told the recent Land Forces Africa conference he believes piracy can only be managed, never eradicated.

He said 92% of global trade, 70% of crude oil and 90% of African trade is seaborne.

According to him the maritime domain is under great pressure being misused, exploited and destroyed. Maritime threats include terrorism, piracy, pollution, oil theft, overfishing and smuggling.