Owners Get Proactive Over Piracy

The Danes want a lot more done about the piracy problem off the east coast of Africa.

The country’s shipowners have had their share of vessels captured or attacked and have formed their own working groups in Copenhagen, where they swap experiences and best practice.

This led, in May this year, to the Danish government to issue a paper: Strategy for the Danish Counter-Piracy effort, 2011-2014.

The government — and the shipowners — know despite their vociferous efforts, they alone cannot solve the piracy problem and it needs an even more co-ordinated international effort.

Danish Shipowners’ Association director Jan Fritz Hansen now chairs a new working committee on piracy in the European Community Shipowners’ Association.

The Danish shipowners are worried about the impact the naval presence is having on a region that has seen increased attacks in recent months.

With the pirates getting more aggressive and co-ordinated, then the response has to follow suit, insists Mr Hansen.

“There are 15 naval vessels in the region. Many governments are not delivering anything and we need them down there,” he said.

More Danish owners are turning to armed security to protect their vessels and crews during a transit — a turn of events the DSA terms a “standard necessity”.

The Danish authority has legislation for licences for vessels under the country’s flag and is looking for some flexibility over the permission required to put weapons on board, having achieved the vetting for security firms.

Denmark also recognises the rules of engagement issued by the Security Association for the Maritime Industry.

Together, the nation’s shipowners and its government have been pushing for a more holistic solution to the Somalian problem for a long time. Both bodies believe fighting fire with fire will not solve the issue in the long run.

Instead they are keen to see the Somalians build up their own fisheries industry again and use it as a source of income.

But more importantly, Mr Hansen asks, can society help follow the ransom money? There should be more effort made in tracking the pirates and middle men, once a ransom is paid, to bring them all to justice.

This is where the European Union could help, he says. The EU is very bureaucratic and while it may be difficult to get a EU-wide naval commitment, there should be something the European Parliament can press forward to develop the means to chase the payments.

There is still the need to push forward the fact the Somalian problem is not just a shipping problem — and those countries that can not commit with a military presence can help in other ways.

“We can not carry this through on our own. We need Europe. We need the bigger countries to help track the ransom as well,” says Mr Hansen.

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