The International Transport workers Federation (ITF) threw down the gauntlet on Monday to those flag states and shipowners who have not taken action to fight Somali piracy to act now.
The International Transport workers Federation (ITF) threw down the gauntlet on Monday to those flag states and shipowners who have not taken action to fight Somali piracy to act now, before the threat makes it virtually impossible for seafarers to pass through the ever widening danger area.
The Federation stated that: "save in exceptional circumstances, ships should not transit the (affected) area. The risk of attack is now so great that putting seafarers in harm"s way amounts to a breach of the shipowner"s duty of care." It went on to describe a motion adopted by its Fair Practices Committee as a statement of intent that flag states and shipowners have to assess the risks and act definitively to combat them, or risk finding themselves outside the law.
ITF Maritime Coordinator Steve Cotton said, "There are countries actively fighting piracy and there are owners training and supporting their crews to resist it. Then there are others who are shirking responsibility and as good as accepting its steadily growing menace, which has now brought us to the point where one of the world"s great trading routes is now almost too dangerous to pass through.
He continued, "Today"s statement reflects the frustration of all those who work at sea at the dire situation we"ve reached. One where pirates act virtually unmolested and, even if intercepted, with virtual impunity from arrest. It calls into question the very legality of continuing to send ships through much of the Indian Ocean. It is therefore imperative that not only must protective escorts be used but that flag states immediately decide on the protective measures that they must recommend for the ships that are flying their flag and that those ships" operators comply with them.
He concluded, "We, and many others, also want to see the end of what"s virtually an open secret in shipping, that many of the world"s largest ship registers have provided not one vessel to patrol an ocean that can only be made safe by an increase in the number of warships needed to aggressively patrol and police it. I am not aware of a single flag of convenience country that is acting in this way to protect the ships that are supposedly their responsibility."