IMO aims to extend UN resolution on piracy in Gulf of Aden
The International Maritime Organization has asked for the extension of United Nations resolution 1816, which aims to tackle the upsurge in piracy in the Gulf of Aden, a spokeswoman for the organization told Platts on Friday.
"The Secretary General [of the IMO] has written to the UN Secretary General asking for extension of the mandate of 1816," the spokeswoman said. Under the terms of the resolution, which was adopted in June 2008 for a period of six months, the Somalian government allows ships from countries cooperating in the anti-piracy effort to enter its territorial waters and use "all necessary means" consistent with international law to repress acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea.
Earlier this week, shipping organizations issued to the IMO a "crisis call" asking it to ensure UN backing for increased naval force in order to protect the lives of seafarers and passengers as well as ships and cargoes.
"The shipping organizations note that some major shipping companies are already refusing to transit the Gulf of Aden, while many others are understandably considering similar steps," the statement said, adding that the piracy attacks "could prompt shipowners to redirect their ships via the Cape of Good Hope, with severe consequences for international trade, including increased prices for delivered goods."
The Gulf of Aden is a vital international trading lane connecting the Indian Ocean with the Red Sea, with nearly 20,000 ships passing through it every year to the Suez Canal.
This year so far there have been over 50 attacks on vessels between the Gulf of Aden and Somalia, with 20 resulting in hijacks, the International Maritime Bureau said. Currently 12 vessels are held by pirates, with more than 250 crew held hostage.
Owners have been calling for an increased international presence to help tackle the problem, and the US Naval Central Command established a Maritime Security Patrol Area last month, where coalition naval warships will patrol the region accompanied by aerial surveillance.
Currently the coalition forces are "patrolling a narrow corridor and ships operating outside the corridor are being seen as fair game by the pirates," said Sam Dawson, spokesman for the International Transport Workers Federation, one of the organizations behind the "crisis call."
"We want much more aggressive patrol," Dawson said, adding that the organizations want "arrests and interception."