Hamburg Despatches #1

Paul Gibbins is covering the 11th Combating Piracy gathering in Hamburg for the Maritime Security Review, this first posting covers some of the highlights and key issues adressed on the opening day

Hamburg Conference hears of Piracy deterrents reaching a point of equilibrium.

On the first day at the Hanson Wade 11th Combating Piracy gathering in Hamburg, the attendees listened to evidence pointing towards a relative state of balance in countering piracy. BMP4 and Armed Guards are having a positive effect as the shipping sector witnesses a continuing fall in successful hijacks in the Indian Ocean.

With the most recent release of the MV Enrica Elixie, the number of vessels held and seafarers held captive stands at 7 and 209 respectively, but according to Capt Phil Haslam, Chief of Staff to EUNAVFOR, ‘piracy is not over despite falling successes’. He stated that, ‘this is a sophisticated flexible criminal endeavor, where temporal success is reversible’ and whilst EUNAVFOR is experiencing good ‘force flow’, with a greater number of vessels to counter and interdict piracy, for the pirates quite the opposite. Capt Haslam was also highly complimentary of PMSC’s, stating a concern that ‘private armed security is being painted as part of the problem, not of the solution’, and went on further to call for a single industry representative to explain exactly what happens at sea, at the point of delivery of the armed deterrent.

The Marine Director for Intertanko, John Boreman, reiterated that Shipowners and Masters should implement BMP thoroughly; and they should understand the threat and realize that good reporting is essential in the fight against piracy. He also echoed Capt Haslam’s warning that piracy hasn’t gone away but was less enthusiastic with the retaining of Armed Guards in the longer term, saying, ‘armed guards are a temporary solution but in the future ships will need to take increased precautions compared to earlier times’.

The regulation of the PMSC sector was also discussed and Protection Vessels International called for an accreditation of the ‘top five companies’, where compliance would ensure that others would follow. Will Mackenzie-Green, Business Development Manager for PVI said that ‘accreditation should level the field not lower standards’ and went on to state that ‘any legislation should be industry led and not incident led’.

As ever at these type of conference gatherings, the topics of conversation revolved around familiar themes, however one aspect was different during the opening day, there were far less questions, perhaps an indication that both the maritime security sector and the shipping community truly has reached an equilibrium of a kind: a deeper understanding of piracy and a greater acceptance that it is doing all it can against it.

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