The Asian Shipowners’ Forum (ASF) has sent a same letter to both the UN Secretary General Ban Ki – Moon and the IMO Secretary General Mr Efthimios Mitropoulos highlighting the serious concerns and continuing problem of piracy and ship hijacks in the Gulf of Aden, the Somali Basin and in the Indian Ocean.
The letter expressedly condemns the criminal acts and dangers of Somali pirates on maritime security and the safety of international shipping and trade. The ASF strongly urges the UN and IMO, both in their individual and collective capacities, to act within their supreme power immediately to counter the state of lawlessness and to restore the safety of maritime navigation in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia and in the Indian Ocean.
Johnson W. Sutjipto, Chairman of the ASF said: “The situation has gotten out of hand – the lack of action on the part of the international community has resulted in an almost 500% increase in the number of attacks over the past three years. As such, the ASF views this as a matter of extreme urgency, and strongly urges the adoption of a united and dynamic approach to deal with the root of the piracy problem in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia. ”
S.S. Teo, Chairman of the ASF Ship Navigation and Environment Committee, added: “Many ships and crews have been kidnapped in these two years by those Somali pirates for extorting heavy ransom from shipowners to secure their release. In addition to the massive ransoms paid by the shipping community, the financial burdens associated with maritime piracy include, among other things, excess fuel costs and higher insurance premiums. This is an utterly unreasonable burden and cost to the shipping industry – more decisive action must be taken immediately!”
Yasumi Kudo, Chairman of the ASF Shipping Economics Review Committee, added: “Given the inherent volatility of some commodity markets, high profile incidents of maritime piracy can have serious economic impacts far beyond their immediate target. The Gulf of Aden is an important stretch of waters where many fully laden ultra large crude oil carriers (ULCC) transit from the Middle East to Asia. These pirate attacks, if allowed to persist, can result in serious environmental consequences and also cause further fluctuations in the global price of crude oil.”
Mr Li Shanmin, Chairman of the ASF Seafarers Committee also commented: “We must also consider the immeasurable human cost. We must protect the innocent lives of our seafarers and to give their families a peace of mind when their close-kin sail the sea. We need the UN and IMO to take immediate steps to counter this problem as it has also aggravated the shortage of seafarers’ supply with such a situation. Many potential seafarers are now afraid to go to sea!”
Yuichi Sonoda, the ASF Secretary General, echoed: “The Asian shipping industry as well as the global shipping industry is extremely concerned about the situation. The current lawlessness and the lack of a credible deterrent appears to have encouraged the spread of pirate attacks to other areas of Africa and elsewhere. The ASF wants the UN and IMO to take urgent and effective action to remove the intolerable threats on international shipping and their effects on the smooth flow of global trade.”