Boroh: Niger Delta Militants Give Ultimatum To FG, Threatens Attacks

Ten Niger Delta militant groups have given the federal government a four-week ultimatum to reinstate the sacked Coordinator of the Amnesty Program, Retired General Paul Boroh.

The militants, including the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers, warned that they would unleash fresh attacks on oil installations and facilities across the Niger Delta region if the sack of Boroh was not reversed.

The Leader of the Reformed Niger Delta Avengers RNDA, General Johnmark Ezonbi, said in a statement on Monday that: “The federal government will hear from us at the expiration of the four weeks ultimatum as no single stone will be left un-turned as the administration preferred to go back to the recession period where Boroh played a major role by visiting the creeks with other stakeholders to prevail on the boys to drop their arms and embrace peace.”

The group said that all its striking units across the Niger Delta have been put on red alert to “commence operation zero oil to cripple the economy’’.

They said they would embark on a well-coordinated destruction of all major delivery oil pipelines after the expiration of the four weeks ultimatum without looking back.

“I want to warn that any intruder into our planned action in four weeks time if the federal government fails to reinstate General Paul Boroh, will be severely dealt with without mercy because our attack will make security agencies in the creek very small.”

They stated that Boroh had made concerted efforts to put the Amnesty Program back on track with the regular training of ex-militants and payment of monthly stipends without delay.

Source: Sahara reporters

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Hapag-Lloyd boxship chased by robbers off Ghana

Incident involving German containership marks spread of piracy threat in West Africa.

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Piracy Attacks Are No Light Entertainment

I was re-watching the film Captain Phillips the other day, in which Tom Hanks plays the hero captain of a container ship, Maersk Alabama, that is hijacked off the coast of Somalia. It is based on the real hijacking of the vessel in 2009. The film came out in 2013 and although not that long ago it reminded me that the spate of vessel pirate hijackings in that area of the Indian Ocean and elsewhere has somewhat disappeared from the news.

That absence from public view might give the impression that it is no longer a problem. And it is indeed true that the number of piracy incidents in that region and globally has thankfully declined since that period when hijackings and hostage-taking seemed to be almost a daily occurrence. There were intense debates as to whether ransoms demanded by pirates should be paid to free the captured seafarers.

Even though the general public may have forgotten such crimes, quickly turning to other matters nearer home, piracy and other forms of attacks on ships and seafarers have far from disappeared. Seafarers worldwide remain highly vulnerable to such attacks, whether in port, in coastal waters or on the high seas. The plight of those falling victim to these crimes, who are simply going about their business earning a legitimate and hard-earned living, should not be forgotten. It should also be remembered that some of the Somali pirates were also seafarers, mostly fishermen, driven to such criminal action by their own dire circumstances and pressure from others, though that is no excuse.

Although the number of reported piracy and armed robbery worldwide in 2017 was, at 180, the lowest since 1995, according to International Maritime Bureau statistics, that still means that thousands of seafarers from a wide variety of nationalities were subject to sometimes violent attacks.

Among those 180 attacks in 2017, 136 vessels were boarded, while 22 attempted attacks failed. In addition, 16 vessels were fired upon and six vessels were hijacked. These attacks caused major trauma for crew members with three seafarers being killed, 91 were taken hostage in 15 separate incidents and 75 kidnapped from vessels in 13 separate events.

While the overall number of piracy and armed robbery attacks fell in 2017, in some parts of the world there was a worrying increase. In Asia attacks increased to 101, from 85 in 2016. Most of them involved armed robbery on vessels while in port and in anchorages.

The encouraging recent decline in the total number of incidents worldwide should not obscure the fact that piracy and other criminal actions aimed at ships is just another of the risks that seafarers face every day.

The drama of Captain Phillips may be entertaining viewing in the comfort of our own homes, but it should also remind us that we cannot be complacent about attacks on ships and seafarers and must support those unfortunate enough to fall victim and back necessary actions to prevent such attacks in the future.

Source: www.missiontoseafarers.org/

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Australian and ASEAN pursue maritime code of conduct

Summit draws nations with mixed views on Beijing’s moves in South China Sea.

Southeast Asian leaders urged adoption of a code of conduct for the South China Sea at the end of a special summit hosted by Australia, sending a message meant to be heard in China.

The two-day meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Australia ended here Sunday with a declaration emphasizing the importance of freedom of navigation, “non-militarization and the need to … avoid actions that may complicate the situation,” making what appears to be an indirect reference to Chinese island-building in the South China Sea.

The statement did not name China, but the country is a party to negotiations on a code of conduct for that body of water — an area rife with sovereignty disputes.

Australia has expressed concern about China’s construction of islands capable of serving as military outposts in the South China Sea.

But ASEAN remains far from united in its response to this activity, with some members — notably Laos, Cambodia and the Philippines — putting economic interests ahead of geopolitical concerns. Australia’s government aims to deepen ties with Vietnam and other members that see China as more of a rival, and which may be more willing to share Canberra’s concerns.

At the summit, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government signed a strategic partnership with Vietnam that covers security cooperation, as well as a memorandum of understanding on counterterrorism with ASEAN. All ASEAN leaders except Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte attended the summit, the first meeting with ASEAN heads hosted by Australia.

All nations have an interest in the region’s peace and prosperity, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told reporters, adding that he hoped to hold negotiations on the maritime code of conduct relatively early this year.

Australia, India, Japan and the U.S. — a group dubbed the Quad — are pursuing a strategy for what they call “a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” under which Washington has shown greater willingness to involve itself in the South China Sea situation. The USS Carl Vinson this month became the first American aircraft carrier to make a Vietnamese port call since the end of the Vietnam War.

Leaders also discussed North Korea at the weekend summit. Their declaration expresses “grave concerns about the escalation of tensions in the Korean Peninsula.” Speaking with reporters, Lee welcomed a proposed meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, saying he hoped such steps would lead to lasting peace.

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Somali Pirates Return as Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported Fishing Continues in the Gulf of Aden

After pirates hijacked an Iranian fishing vessel last year near Bosasso, a major seaport in Puntland, Somalia, local authorities observed that the offending boat was casting nets without a license. While piracy has diminished since 2008-2012, when these waters became some of the most lawless in the world, a spate of incidents in 2017-8 has made it clear that the conditions that led to piracy—including incursions from foreign fishing boats—are still a major problem.

Illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing is a constant challenge for Somalia’s fisheries sector, which employs 70,000 workers and contributes $135 million USD annually to the local economy.

“Starting in the early 1990s, frustration with IUU fishers became a justification for attacks on foreign vessels, setting the stage for piracy against the entire shipping industry in the Western Indian Ocean,” said Sarah Glaser, lead author of Securing Somali Fisheries, a comprehensive overview of the industry published by One Earth Future. Many Somalis will tell you that foreign fishing fleets—most of which are from Iran and Yemen—are the real pirates. Foreign fishing, which extracts three times more fish than Somalis, threatens the local fishing industry and even the lives of the local fishers.

“A lot of the illegal fishing [vessels] have guns…” said Abdisalam Ali, a project coordinator with Kaalo Netherlands Foundation, a non-profit organization that works in the fishing village of Eyl, Puntland. “I asked some fishers [what country the illegal trawlers come from]. They say, ‘we don’t go near them. We have to stay far away.’” “The biggest challenge is foreign ships that come to our sea illegally at night,” said Jama Ahmed Mohamed of Alla Aamin Fishing, located in Berbera, Somaliland. “If they run you over no one will ever know. They are not registered to anyone.”

“When the boats that no one can control, like the ones from Yemen, come in, you lose like $15,000,” said Abdiweli Farah, owner of Hodan Fishing, operating in Eyl. “You put specific nets and hooks on the ground and they come and take them. There is nothing that you can do except cough up a lot of money.” Also at stake is the environmental sustainability of Somali waters, which have the potential to support some of the world’s most productive fisheries. Foreign industrial vessels—ignorant of Somali fisheries law—trawl very close to the Somali coastline, jeopardizing its fragile ecosystem. It is estimated that if current fishing practices continue, 40 percent of Somali fish stocks are unsustainable.

In 2014, the Federal Government of Somalia claimed Somalia’s 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to protect Somali waters from IUU fishing, in line with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. “But, despite all our progress in strengthening fisheries management domestically, we lack the ability to police our vast waters,” wrote Hussein Sheikh Mohamud, Somalia’s former president, in a Project Syndicate op-ed.

This was clear when I visited the region in 2017. While out on a rare patrol with the Somaliland Coast Guard, we quickly encountered a Yemeni ship dumping livestock manure into the ocean just out of sight of Berbera harbor—and in broad daylight. Despite these challenges, Somali fishers persevere. Local demand is growing. The fishing industry exported 4,000 metric tons of fish commodities valued at $3.1 million USD in 2014. Building the sector’s supporting value chains, such as processing facilities that provide ice to keep fish fresh on the way to market, have created additional jobs for Somalis.

However, the best investment that Somalis can make is to create a strong licensing system for the foreign and domestic fleets that use their waters. Licensing could reinforce governance in its EEZ, but more importantly, it can also boost the economy and prevent over-fishing. Better fisheries management could ensure the sustainability of the Somali fishing industry, building the country’s economy, protecting its waters, and increasing food security. Combined, these factors can contribute to peace and security in this fragile region.

Source: newsecuritybeat

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Tanker suspected of fuel smuggling captured in Libya

A Togo-flagged fuel tanker called “Lamar” and its Greek crew were arrested on Thursday, 15 March by Libyan naval forces, as it was suspected to have been trying to smuggle oil out of Libya.

Libya is a known departure point for smuggling activity, mainly to nearby countries such as Tunisia and Malta. Lamar’s eight Greek crewmembers are arrested and their case is now referred to the general prosecutor.

Libya seized the oil tanker as it did not have any permissions from the country, naval forces spokesman Ayoub Qassem, was cited as saying by Reuters. The ship was seized off Abu Kamash, near the border with Tunisia.

Lamar was located in Tunisia, where it turned of its transponder, which is a usual tactic of smugglers.

Source: Safety4sea

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Is Southeast Asia home to the most dangerous waters in the world?

Increasing piracy, shipping accidents and political disputes have made Southeast Asia a dangerous place for seafarers. But what is the cause of these issues, and to what extent are countries in the region taking steps to solve them?

Southeast Asia is home to some of the biggest shipping trade routes worldwide. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), around 80% of global trade is transported by sea, with 60% of this volume passing through Asia. Major seafaring companies move goods to and from China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea across the South China Sea, which carries an estimated one-third of the global shipping industry.

However, the status of Southeast Asian waters as a bustling hub of economic activity has led to an increasing number of security issues, with ship collisions and piracy incidents more common here than in any other location worldwide. In an era where shipping losses are decreasing across the world, these problems make this region a deeply volatile one.

A new Bermuda triangle

In January, Panama-registered oil tanker Sanchi collided with CV Crystal, a Hong Kong-flagged cargo ship, with around 136,000 tonnes of oil on-board. The tanker exploded and remained ablaze for several days, hampering rescue operations and killing all 32 crew members.

The tragedy, which occurred approximately 160 nautical miles from Shanghai, brought new attention to an area of East/South East Asian seas that are increasingly seen as a hotspot for shipping accidents. Media sources reported waters adjacent to Indochina, Indonesia, the Malay Peninsula, the Korean Peninsula and Japan could be renamed the ‘new Bermuda triangle’, on account of the increasing number of marine disasters in the region.

Powerful storms, high waves and the sudden passage of military ships as a result of ongoing territory disputes have been attributed to disasters in these waters. A number of US naval ships have been recently involved in collisions, including the USS Lake ChamplainUSS FitzgeraldUSS Antietam and USS John McCain. The ubiquity of larger cargo ships has also been a factor, as this increases the chance of collision.

According to a 2017 report by marine insurer Allianz, losses in East and Southeast Asian waters totalled 34 in 2016, making up 40% of the global shipping loss tally of 85 ships that year. While shipping losses have dropped globally by 50%, this has not been witnessed in the South China Sea.

“It is certainly the number one region worldwide for major shipping incidents,” said global head of marine risk consulting at Allianz, Rahul Khanna, in a press statement. “Not only are the seas here very busy, but they are also prone to bad weather and, although I can’t speculate on this event [the Sanchi collision], some safety standards in the region are not always as high as one would expect from established international standards.”

Dealing with piracy

In the last few years, Southeast Asia has emerged as a hotbed for piracy, with sea routes off Malaysia, Singapore and the South China Sea regularly frequented by traffickers. As a whole, the region was the location for 41% of the world’s pirate attacks between 1995 and 2013.

A number of potential root causes have been cited for why maritime crime persists in the area. In an essay titled ‘The roots of piracy in Southeast Asia’, Dr Carolin Liss of Perth’s Murdoch University highlights that poverty from declining catches and rivalry among fishers can lead them to supplement their incomes through piracy. However, there is also the issue that naval police in the region have previously been too weak or too corrupt to deal with the situation.

“It is simply the persistent capacity shortfalls of many regional maritime forces, having to keep up with various challenges across multiple maritime areas such as illegal fishing and smuggling, that makes it difficult to keep such piracy incidents consistently low,” Dr Collin Koh, research fellow at the Maritime Security Programme of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, told The Straits Times.

With piracy increasing year-on-year in Southeast Asia between 2012 and 2015, authorities have taken stronger collaborative action to prevent further threats and costs to the shipping industry. For example, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members began working together to run coordinated patrols to tackle piracy in the Malacca Strait, a shipping route once rife with piracy. Malaysian transport minister Liow Tiong Lai claimed in February that collaborative enforcement had made this strait a safe trading route, free from piracy threats.

Another recent focus area has been the Sulu and Celebes Seas bordering the Phillipines. In January, a report by the International Maritime Bureau noted that incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships had dropped to 180 worldwide, the lowest number since 1995. However, 22 incidents had been recorded in the Philippines, up from 10 in 2016. A spate of kidnappings by Abu Sayyaf, a terrorist network linked to ISIS, recently led Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to call for pirates to be ‘blasted out of the seas’.

According to data collected by NYA International, piracy in Southeast Asia fell significantly in the months from January to November 2017 compared to 2016, and this decrease is attributed to increased coordination between Southeast Asian nations. Nevertheless, experts speculate that until the root causes of piracy are addressed, it will remain more significant in these waters than in traditional pirate haunts, such as Somalia.

Political disputes threaten security

Maritime security in the South China Sea has come under threat from an ongoing sovereignty dispute between countries in the region. China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei have all staked claims in the sea’s territories, islands, reefs and banks. These nations aim to acquire rights to areas so they can be exploited for fishing, or the extraction of crude oil and natural gas.

China has claimed easily the largest portion of territory, deploying naval patrols and building man-made islands in a region stretching hundreds of miles south and east from the country’s southern province of Hainan.

Meanwhile, many non-claimant nations want the South China Sea – through which more than $3tn of cargo is estimated to move annually – to remain international waters. The US has therefore sent military ships, most recently the USS Carl Vinson, to the locality of these disputed islands, under what it has termed ‘freedom of navigation’ initiatives. Other nations are supporting this; Britain is expected to send its own frigate to the South China Sea in March.

Since 2013, there have been at least 38 reported small-scale incidents between vessels under the flags of claimant states. Nevertheless, with the increased militarisation of the area by China and the US, there are concerns that the dispute could one day escalate, boosting danger to ships passing through.

The 10-member ASEAN is hoping to expedite negotiations with China over a new code of conduct for the South China Sea, which began in November last year. The aim is to advance a 2002 Declaration of Conduct between parties in the region, and provide a legally binding and enforceable set of regulations for the waterway that could improve relations between claimant nations. Nevertheless, there is scepticism about when this code will come to fruition.

“We hope it will be expedited but it’s a very, very complex issue,” Singapore defence minister Ng Eng Hen told reporters after a meeting of ASEAN defence ministers in February. “It’s a century’s old dispute. Expecting [the code] in one year is just unrealistic.”

Source: Joe Baker, ship-technology

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Indonesia pushes Southeast Asian countries to carry maritime patrolling

Indonesia has lobbied Southeast Asian countries to carry out maritime patrols in the disputed South China Sea, claimed in most part by China, to improve security, Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said on Friday.

Indonesia says it’s a non-claimant state in the South China Sea dispute but has clashed with China over fishing rights around the Natuna Islands and expanded its military presence there, and also renamed the northern reaches of its exclusive economic zone, asserting its own maritime claim.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Defence Minister Marise Payne held talks with their Indonesian counterparts Retno Marsudi and Ryacudu in Sydney, ahead of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.

Australia is hosting the meeting, despite not being a member of the 10-nation bloc, as it seeks to tighten political and trade ties in the region amid China’s rising influence.

“For the South China Sea, I went around to friends – ASEAN defense ministers – so that each country that faces the South China Sea patrols up to 200 nautical miles, around 230 kilometers,” Ryacudu told reporters at a joint press conference.

Indonesia is focusing on three areas, notably the Sulu Sea, the Malacca Strait and the seas around the coast of Thailand, Ryacudu said, referring to existing cooperation with Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines.

“If we look at the (borders) from Vietnam down to Indonesia and to the Philippines, we can see we have secured almost half of the South China Sea (in areas) we are already patrolling.”

China claims most of the South China Sea, an important trade route and which is believed to contain large quantities of oil and natural gas and has been building artificial islands on reefs, some with ports and airstrips, developments that have irked ASEAN members.

China has also been rapidly increasing its military deployment in the South China Sea and its air force said last month that Chinese Su-35 fighter jets took part in a combat patrol over the disputed waterway.

Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, all of which are members of ASEAN, and Taiwan also have claims in the sea.

China’s foreign minister said last week that China’s resolve to protect peace and stability in the South China Sea was unshakeable, and that outside forces were attempting to muddy the waters.

China has been angered in the past by freedom of navigation patrols in the South China Sea by the United States which it sees as provocative.

Australia – which says it takes no sides on South China Sea disputes but has supported U.S.-led freedom of navigation activities – has previously said it had no plans to take part in joint patrols.

Officially, the ASEAN summit will focus on fostering closer economic ties among the members of ASEAN and Australia and countering the threat of Islamist militants returning to the region from the Middle East.

Australian Foreign Minister Bishop also said Australia would “very seriously” consider any formal invitation to join the grouping, a move advocated by Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Source: Devdiscourse

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Multiple Alerts West Africa

16.03.2018: 0810 UTC, Posn: 03:57.31N – 006: 52.39E, Around 29nm SW of Bonny Island, Nigeria.
Eight armed pirates in a small high-speed boat approached and fired upon a tanker underway. Master notified the onboard naval armed team, commenced evasive manoeuvres and all non-essential crew retreated to the citadel. Seeing the vessel hardening the pirates aborted and moved away. Nigerian Navy notified.

16.03.2018: 0800 UTC: Posn: 03:57.0N – 006:42.5E, Around 36nm SW of Bonny Island, Nigeria.
Armed pirates attacked and boarded a general cargo ship underway. Alarm raised and all crew retreated into the citadel. The Owners contacted the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre and requested for assistance. The Centre immediately informed the Nigerian Navy who dispatched patrol boats to assist the ship. The IMB PRC liaised with the Owners and the Navy on the incident. The Naval personnel boarded the ship. No pirates found onboard. The crew emerged from the citadel and sailed to a safe port along under the Naval personnel’s escort

Source: ICC-ICS

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NIMASA, IMO move to enforce maritime security legislations

By Godwin Oritse
IN a bid to further strengthen the nation’s maritime security, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, in collaboration with International Maritime Organization, IMO, has commenced moves to develop capacity to implement and enforce maritime safety and security legislations.Director General NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, disclosed this at the commencement of a three-day Table Top exercise on security in West and Central Africa. He said that cooperation amongst relevant government departments and agencies will enhance the fight against piracy and armed robbery on ships.
Peterside explained that the cooperation will not only enhance security in the nation’s coastal and territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone, but its impact will cascade towards the West and Central African States.
He stated: “The International Ship and Port Security, ISPS, Code implementation Committee commenced the process of inter-agency coordination in the event of an emergency. This Table Top exercise will further buttress the ongoing effort to determine the respective roles, responsibilities, processes and procedures we are all to play in the event of an accident.
“This exercise by IMO will be done using a range of global evolving scenarios. The essence of the ISPS Code is bordered on the need to respond to the signs of times by putting in place holistic strategies to protect our ports and the ships calling upon them from across the world through adequate security of our maritime domain.”
Similarly, NIMASA’s Executive Director, Operations, Engr Rotimi Fashakin, said the exercise is designed to test the flexibility of response mechanism in the event of a breach of maritime security.
IMO consultant, Mr. Brian Crammer, told Vanguard that the exercise is aimed at supporting the implementation of the code of conduct concerning piracy and armed robbery against ships, as well as illicit maritime activities in West and Central Africa.
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