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HKSOA: urgent need to solve piracy problem

Hong Kong: The spate of recent hijacks, culminating with the capture of Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line (IRISL)'s mv "Delight" the in the Gulf of Aden yesterday has prompted the Hong Kong Shipowners Association to call attention to the "grave situation for merchant ships and their seafarers sailing off the coast of Somalia".

HKSAO md Arthur Bowring said, "This is a problem that must be solved as soon as possible, both by preventative and defensive action by the world's navies to protect the safe passage of world trade, as well as by the provision of aid and humanitarian work in Somalia, in order to restore a working government and install effective law enforcement along the Somalia coast."

The association is particularly troubled by the extension of the pirate's operating zone to include the main oil trade route from the Arabian Gulf to Europe and the United States along the east coast of Africa, increasing the risk to shipping. It has raised the issue of potential harm to seafarers that are untrained to use arms, but are transiting through extremely high risk waters.

"While there are some preventative measures that can be put in place by the owner and master of the ship, there is very little more that can be done in the event of an attack," he continued, adding, "The pirates are well armed, well organized and superbly efficient. The terrifying nature of the attack, with no apparent shortage of firepower and ammunition, means that the seafarers and the ship itself are under threat of severe injury and damage.  And boarding of ships by the pirates under such conditions is unpreventable."  [20/11/08]

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