Is piracy only about security issues?
How can security legislation stop the problem of piracy?
The issue of security in cargo shipping has gained a great deal of unfortunate publicity in recent years, with increasing number of pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia, the Gulf of Aden and the South China Sea.
Although maritime piracy can sound like a swash-buckling crime from the depths of history, modern-day pirate attacks actually cost the global cargo industry a massive $13 billion to $16 billion every year. Consequently, it’s no wonder shipping companies and their customers take the issue of vessel security very seriously indeed.
The upcoming Hamburg-based Maritime Security & Defence conference and exhibition is focusing on this issue, with a number of innovative products and enhanced technologies on show for shipping industry bosses to be wowed by.
But will they be wowed? Yes, there will be a huge number of exhibits including sophisticated optical and acoustic sensors, unmanned helicopters and autonomous undersea vehicles, but isn’t that really shutting the door after the horse has bolted?
The International Maritime Bureau reported that there has been a 35 per cent increase of pirate attacks involving guns since 2007, with 67 crew members injured in 2007 compared to 17 the year before. This does not include those held hostage but released without injury and it’s almost impossible to quantify the fear and stress for the people involved.
Surely cargo vessel security needs to be an international political issue, rather than a trade fair? Where is the dialogue for an agreement of how to handle the demands of pirates on a global scale, rather than simply hoping it happens to the vessel of another nation? This increasing problem has touched so many nationalities that the heroics of individuals is no longer enough of a safety net and sensors, while a welcome addition, are not enough of a deterrent when there is so much bounty on board to be taken by people with nothing of their own.