“Ideally, events such as this one should not be necessary” said MEP Anna Rosbach, host of a maritime piracy photography exhibition organized in the European Parliament by ECSA and the Danish Shipowners’ Association.
The exhibition will be on display this whole week in the European Parliament, where the ECSA Piracy Taskforce will also have a meeting to discuss growing piracy hot spots.
Ms Rosbach (ECR, Denmark) deplored the fact that piracy continues to pose a threat to innocent seafarers, the shipping industry and by extension global trade and she hoped that events such as this one would contribute to raise awareness among the general public and decision makers.
While successful hijackings off the coast of Somalia have considerably decreased in the last few years, the root causes of Somali piracy have not yet been tackled. The international community and shipowners have managed to keep the pirates at bay at great costs, both human and economic. Ships transiting the high risk area are today less vulnerable, mainly due to passive (sharp lookout, barbed wire surrounding the ships, faster sailing speeds etc…) as well as active self-defense measures (deployment of national armed forces or private armed guards on board). A resurgence of piracy in the Horn of Africa is however far from improbable, so continued international military presence and the implementation of protective measures are still of the upmost importance.
The rapidly emerging piracy model in West Africa is also extremely worrying. According to the International maritime Bureau, in 2013, 53 incidents took place while in the first 45 days of 2014, 10 incidents have already been reported. However, numbers are likely to be higher as many attacks still remain unreported.
“Piracy in West Africa needs to be addressed effectively now before it escalates. Whilst we cannot simply apply the solutions successfully used off the coast of Somalia, we believe that there is a clear role for the EU and the international community. The situation in West Africa affects not only seafarers and shipowners but also jeopardizes efficient trade with the entire region” said Jan Fritz Hansen, Chairman of the ECSA Piracy Taskforce.
Patrick Verhoeven, ECSA Secretary General added: “I do hope that this exhibition will help raise awareness on the thorny issue of piracy and prompt decision makers to maintain a credible military presence off the coast of Somalia while also scaling up their efforts in West Africa.”
ECSA, March 4, 2014