Government urged to 'hold firm' on military resources to counter piracy to avoid threat to world trade

UK Chamber of Shipping responds to Foreign Affairs Committee report on piracy off the coast of Somalia.

The UK Chamber of Shipping welcomes the well-researched and level-headed report published today by the Foreign Affairs Committee and urges the UK and other governments to keep up the provision of military resource and intelligence on counter piracy, despite current economic pressures.

Mark Brownrigg, Director General of the Chamber, said:

“This substantial report covers the full spectrum of complex issues surrounding piracy. Shipping carries more than 80% of world trade and therefore any threat to ships and seafarers on major routes will have its own impact on the UK and global economy.

“This is why it’s essential that the current effective military presence in the Indian Ocean must be maintained and strengthened, even in the face of today’s economic pressures.”

The UK Chamber also responded to other key sections of the report:

UK role in counter piracy

“We strongly support the Committee’s emphasis on the UK continuing to play a leading role in the international response to piracy, including the provision of naval units in the area and the practical support which the UK gives to the EUNAVFOR initiative.”

Policy on armed guards

“We share the welcome given to the Prime Minister’s announcements in December decriminalising the carriage of private armed guards and announcing an international conference in the spring on security in Somalia, including the issue of piracy.

“With regard to armed guards, we welcome the emphasis placed on the need for clear and practical guidance on the use of force by private units and for a regulatory structure governing their deployment, including provision for proper training of operatives and guidance as to their use. We also particularly welcome the recommendation that government and industry should together investigate further the potential for using military ‘vessel protection detachments’.”

Political challenges from piracy

“Above all, the Chamber considers it essential to keep a high public profile on this brutal issue which is so crucial for crews and ships crossing the Indian Ocean. It is vital that all possible efforts are maintained to resolve the legal and political challenges that piracy throws up, both at sea and on land in Somalia itself.

“These challenges – including the financial tracking of the ill-gotten gains from this criminal activity, ensuring that the actions of pirates meet with effective prosecution and sanctions, and working on capacity-building with the authorities in Somalia to encourage alternative lifestyles – remain and must be solved sooner rather than later.”

International conference on piracy

“Issues that affect the shipping industry always require co-operation between countries to find solutions. We are very much looking forward to the promised international conference announced recently by David Cameron and hope that this event will help find a lasting solution to the unacceptable scourge of piracy and its destabilizing effect on seafarers, the shipping industry and world trade.”