Workboats conference to assess piracy

A Middle East workboats conference is set to evaluate success of security measures as Somali piracy attacks fall to the lowest level since 2006, in Abu Dhabi from September 30.

The three-day Seatrade Middle East Work Boats and Offshore Marine 2013, the region’s leading event for workboat operators, builders and the offshore marine market, will take place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, with day one focusing on  operational excellence in Africa.

In the Gulf of Aden and Somalia, eight piracy incidents including two hijackings were recorded by the International Marine Bureau’s (IMB) global piracy report in the first half of 2013, said a statement.

The figures compared favourably against 2012 when 49 attacks were recorded including seven hijackings during the whole year. In 2011, the corresponding numbers were even higher, 75 incidents including 14 hijackings, it said.

Currently there are over 20 nations involved in three international task forces in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean, an area covering more than two million square nautical miles.

‚ÄúAggressive patrolling by international combined naval forces and the increase in the use of private armed security contractors onboard vessels, have clearly been an effective deterrent. According to Thomas Kelly, the US State Department official in charge of counter-piracy policy four out of five container ships and tankers now deploy armed guards,” said Chris Hayman, chairman of Seatrade, organisers of the conference.

However, Australia’s Lowy Institute for International Policy has raised concerns regarding the legitimacy of the more than 140 companies currently offering private contractor services, and highlighting regulatory issues and instances of international disputes over the last year as a pressing issue for the industry and governments in troubled international waters.

Another contributing factor to the significant drop in Somali piracy could be due to the announced earlier this year by Mohamed Abdi Hassan (known as Afweyne) that he had ‘quit’ piracy. He was responsible for hijacking a Ukrainian transport ship carrying Soviet-era T-72 battle tanks, which was released for a reported three million dollars.

“Although about 1,000 pirates have been imprisoned in 20 nations as a result of the crackdown on the trade, capturing lowly pirates is not the only solution. There’s probably only a dozen people like Afweyne, who wield considerable influence and power that should be investigated. They are often funding the pirates’ boats and guns and then laundering the proceeds,” added Hayman.

A panel of expert speakers will be present for the event line-up which includes Industry Outlook-2020, Middle East, Africa and Caspian economical overview session, Dynamic Positioning capability and systems development.

Over 165 exhibitors will offer business and social networking both in the conference sessions and on the exhibition floor. –¬†TradeArabia News Service


Original Article