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Piracy in the spotlight in the Indian maritime industry

Piracy in the spotlight in the Indian maritime industry

Mumbai: Monday proved to be a momentous day for Indian nationals taking a stand against piracy. Not only was there a high profile meeting convened by the Secretary Shipping to discuss the incidence of piracy around Somalia, but members of the National Union of Seafarers of India (NUSI) boarded a number of Indian flagged vessels off Mumbai and prevented them sailing. According to the Union, its members were protesting the lack of action by the government to aid the release of 18 Indian seafarers that have been held hostage onboard the Stolt Valor for over a month.

The meeting and protests come in the same week as an Indian vessel with 13 crew members onboard was hijacked by pirates, reinforcing the decision to deploy an Indian naval vessel has recently been deployed to the dangerous waters in the Gulf of Aden.

At the meeting, industry representatives consisting of INSA president and SCI chairman and md S Hajara, Capt S S Jairam, Chairman of MASSA and Capt. N Passey, Chairman of FOSMA conveyed the industry's anxiety over the continuing menace of piracy in the important trade route through the Gulf of Aden. They pointed out that over $100bn of India's export and import trade passes through the area, which is now under the threat of the lawless pirates, indicating that this will have adverse effects on the India's economic well-being.

Representatives at the meeting also brought up the fact that thousands of Indian seafarers are employed on foreign flag vessels transiting the Somalian waters and asked the Indian government to increase the Indian naval presence and co-ordinate with other navies in the area such that vessels could be escorted in a convoy system

There was also a decision taken to send a high powered political team of to Japan to press on the owners of MT Stolt Valor to conclude negotiations with the pirates responsible.  [22/10/08]