It is almost 18 months since the launch of the international SOS SaveOurSeafarers. As World Maritime Day approaches, SOS has issued this update to its supporters advising of campaign progress and its future objectives.
The campaign has made significant headway in raising public and political awareness of the human and economic cost of Somali piracy.
We have applied pressure on the governments of seafaring nations to encourage them to look at immediate as well as long-term solutions to tackle the problem in a more effective way.
SOS has helped place Somali piracy firmly on the international agenda by securing coverage in key global media. It has seen a positive response from politicians in a number of countries, where there is now a broad awareness of the extent, nature and potential consequences of the problem. It has also seen the development of more active engagement of Somali pirates by naval forces and less catch-and-release of suspected pirates who have faced more prosecutions.
Several governments have responded with a series of international conferences in London, Dubai, Istanbul and Perth (Australia) to discuss the on-going issues in Somalia, and pledged continuing naval commitment to tackle piracy in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.
We’ve had incredible results in a very short timescale. However we still need to do more to make governments sit up and take notice.
SOS in numbers
Our campaign has continued to gather industry support. We now represent 32 industry bodies. SOS is the largest maritime grouping ever to come together to speak as one on a single issue.
www.saveourseafarers.com has had over 135,000 visitors from 196 countries since its launch. The campaign has also built a solid social media presence. Our Facebook page has 5441 fans and we have 1,657 followers on Twitter.
The campaign’s emphasis is now on maintaining the high awareness levels in countries where there has already been a reaction to the campaign, and on increasing its profile in areas where this has yet to happen. We are seeking on-going commitment from governments funding anti-piracy naval operations to keep forces on station, as well as proactivity in engaging with pirate groups and in prosecuting those suspected of piracy.
Although current naval successes have halved the number of successful pirate attacks, continuing naval commitment is essential to stop any resurgence of pirate activity. The campaign supports the recent recommendation from the UK House of Lords for the continued use of naval warships to tackle piracy under EUNAVFOR’s on-going anti-piracy operation Operation Atalanta.
Please don’t stop
Since March 2011, the SOS campaign has played a significant role in increasing worldwide awareness and interest in the horrific realities of Somali piracy and the on-going plight of seafarers and their families. We’ve achieved a great deal but we couldn’t have done this without your overwhelming support. Every letter, Facebook ‘like’ and tweet makes a difference.
Although a great deal has been achieved we must not be complacent. We seek continuing commitment from governments and are encouraging more organisations, employees, crews and their families worldwide to go to the SOS website and participate in our campaign.
You can continue to help us by pushing further to raise awareness of the campaign and its objectives – you could forward this message to any friends and colleagues who might be willing to add their support and spread the word even further.
Alastair Evitt, Chair SOS SaveOurSeafarers