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Monday, December 18, 2017

Piracy, stowaways and abandoned seafarers discussed at Joint INTERTANKO/INTERCARGO members' lunch

Around 25 members and associate members of INTERTANKO and INTERCARGO attended the members' lunch in London on Wednesday this week in the INTERTANKO/INTERCARGO office. 

Mr. Pottengal Mukundan, Director, International Maritime Bureau (IMB), gave a brief presentation on piracy. He gave an overview of worldwide piracy trends, identified high-risk areas and in particular, pointed out Somalia as the current top piracy hot-spot with 7 incidents reported since 16 July 2005. IMB advises ships to keep as far away as possible from the Somali coasts, as heavily armed pirates are attacking ships, and kidnap for ransom incidents are on the rise. Mr Mukundan mentioned that although the number of piracy attacks reported worldwide through the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre in Kuala Lumpur had fallen in 2004 to 325 compared to 445 in 2003, the attacks had become more violent in nature with 30 crew members murdered in 2004 compared to 21 in 2003. 

Mr John Bainbridge of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) elaborated on the issues of stowaways and abandoned seafarers - two issues which cause major headaches to those sectors of the maritime industry tasked with dealing with the unfortunate outcomes of such matters. 

In respect of trends, Mr Bainbridge considered that there was under-reporting of the stowaway problem to the IMO. The introduction of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code had undoubtedly improved both the deterrence and early detection of stowaways but an estimated 6,000 stowaways at sea at any one time showed that the ISPS Code could not be considered as a universal panacea - especially in those parts of the world where the Code was believed to have had only a limited effect in improving port security. Overall, it was felt that the number of governments willing to accept the landing of stowaways was declining, thereby placing increased burdens on Masters and the FlagStates of those ships that had inadvertently picked up stowaways. 

Similarly, the numbers of abandoned seafarers had undoubtedly declined in recent years due to the general improvement in the financial returns in all maritime sectors, but Mr Bainbridge cautioned that owners, flag states and P&I Clubs could see an upturn in the problem should profit margins begin to diminish for marginal owners.  

The INTERTANKO/INTERCARGO London office organises a series of gatherings for its UK-based members, with the aim of providing a forum to members for the exchange of information and experience. In addition, the objective of these informal gatherings is to update members on topical issues as well as the current work programme of the various INTERTANKO/INTERCARGO Committees, thereby providing an opportunity for members to give their comments and feedback. 

Contact:Minerva Alfonso or Rob Lomas