Unions back use of armed guards on vessels.
Seafarers unions have backed the use of armed military personnel on board ships transiting piracy prone areas ?where appropriate?, while at the same time reiterating their resistance to the arming of seafarers themselves.
The policy brings the International Transport Workers" Federation broadly into line with leading shipowner organisation BIMCO, which argues that while shipowners should concentrate on implementing best practice guidelines, armed services shipriders might be suitable in some circumstances.
A meeting of ITF seafarer representatives in Berlin also condemned unnamed major flags of convenience for their failure to take concrete action on the piracy issue.
Although tacitly conceding that most FoC nations lack the capacity to project their armed services worldwide, a statement from the union grouping argues that none have even volunteered to allow their jurisdictions to be used for the prosecution of alleged pirates.
?It is unforgiveable that the major flag of convenience states have done little more to fight piracy than sign pieces of paper,? the statement said.
The meeting also professed itself ?gravely concerned? by attempts to prevent payment of ransoms, and maintained that it is the duty of shipowners and flag states to take all necessary measures to swiftly reunite seafarers with their families when they are held hostage.
In response to such concerns, the ITF will shortly launch an international petition for tougher action on Somali piracy, and will seek to raise half a million signatures worldwide between now and World Maritime Day on September 23.
The call will be for governments to ?dedicate significant resources? to the problem, in a bid to find ?real solutions?. States said to be ?ducking their responsibilities? will be asked to follow the lead of those actively involved in counterpiracy efforts.
ITF maritime co-ordinator Steve Cotton said: ?This decision has empowered us to build a worldwide campaign to put pressure on all governments to close the gap in their anti-piracy efforts. At the end of last year we warned that a point had been reached where the affected area had become too dangerous to enter, except in exceptional circumstances.
?We also highlighted the scandalous negligence of countries making billions from ships they are doing nothing to protect. There has been no improvement since then.?