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Shipping industry launches e-petition against Somali piracy

Shipping industry launches e-petition against Somali piracy

London: A large number of shipping bodies have banded together to launch a global e-petition ( today demanding stronger action, renewed focus and new initiatives by governments to tackle the problem of piracy in the international shipping lanes, particularly through the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.

The petition is the centrepiece of a new campaign to persuade all governments to commit the resources necessary to end the increasing problem of Somalia-based piracy. It is intended to deliver at least half a million signatures to governments by IMO World Maritime Day, September 23rd and is supported by BIMCO, ICS, IFSMA, IMEC, IPTA, Intercargo, InterManager, International Group of P&I Clubs, INTERTANKO, ISF, ITF, IUMI and SIGTTO, as well as national shipowners' associations and trade unions worldwide.

'Together we must encourage all governments to do everything necessary to protect the lives of seafarers who are subject to increasingly violent attacks, with over 1800 kidnapped in the last two years alone,' said ISF President, Spyros M Polemis, speaking on behalf of all the signatory associations. 'Ninety per cent of world trade is carried by sea and governments have a duty to extend the naval protection being provided - which is currently inadequate - and regain control of the Indian Ocean from a handful of criminals.'

The petition calls on nations to:
o Dedicate significant resources and work to find real solutions to the growing piracy problem.
o Take immediate steps to secure the release and safe return of kidnapped seafarers to their families
o Work within the international community to secure a stable and peaceful future for Somalia and its people

ITF General Secretary David Cockroft commented: "With one click everyone can now make their feelings about piracy known, and then pass the link on to all their colleagues around the world who feel the same. In this way we can signal our belief that it is past time for all governments to do what has to be done to protect seafarers, ships and the goods that they carry and on which we all rely."

INTERTANKO has also issued a separate call to governments to step up their involvement in and the effectiveness of keeping the international shipping lanes through the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean open. The tanker industry body states that while it 'appreciates the efforts of the naval forces and acknowledges their impressive record in reducing successful pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden in particular,' it believes that the'effectiveness of this work is being diminished by the inability to bring pirates to justice and to prevent them from returning to operation after capture and release, and by the recent extension of piratical activity far into the Indian Ocean.'

Reflecting what INTERTANKO's Chairman Capt Graham Westgarth recently called "a significant degree of frustration", the INTERTANKO's Members are therefore now urging Governments to step up their involvement and commit to the maintaining of international sea lanes with concerted efforts to find real and workable solutions to enable them to fight piracy more aggressively and effectively by: "increasing naval and other appropriate military support, and by adjusting their rules of engagement for naval forces - rules which should be robust enough to tackle piracy head-on; ensuring effective powers are granted and are in place to arrest, detain and bring to justice all those who operate on the high seas outside the law."  [20/05/10]