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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.
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.
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”.