Government outlaws private security guards onboard vessels

Notwithstanding the spate of pirate attacks on its territorial waters, the Federal Government has declared that the Nigerian Constitution forbids the use of armed private guards on board vessels.

The Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, who made this known at the 3th edition of Lagos International Maritime Week in Lagos, called on maritime stakeholders to develop a strategy to deal with the challenges within the permissible scope of security agencies to improve maritime security.

Malami, in a presentation entitled: “Armed Guards Aboard Merchant Vessels in Nigeria – Legal or Illegal,” said maritime security has become an important requirement for merchants’ vessels over the last decade. This, he said, is due to the increasing threats from pirates across the world, adding that the issue of maritime security in the Nigerian territorial waters should be taken seriously.

The Minister, who was represented by the Special Assistant to the President on Financial Crimes, Abiodun Aikomo, said: “Even though Nigerian-flagged vessels cannot make use of armed private guards as the law stands today. The reality is that there must be a dynamic strategy of dealing with security challenges facing merchant vessels in Nigerian waters.”

He added that: “Human beings have the responsible for self-preservation of their life and limbs and by extension, private properties and investments.

“As to the legality and illegality of armed guards on merchant vessels in Nigeria, the debate should no longer be focused on whether armed guards should be employed. Rather, how they can effectively, legally and safely be engaged with emphasis on accreditation and accountability.

“In this regard, the United Kingdom, and Norway have provided regulations on the use of private guards onboard. The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), has also announced its change of stance on armed guards.”

According to him, it could be necessary to amend the relevant laws in the long term, adding that there was a need for stakeholders to develop a strategy within the scope of power of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), in collaboration with other sister agencies.

The Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation, Ladi Lawanson, sued for massive financing in the sector, especially in the face of emerging innovations and advances in technology.

Lawanson, who was represented by his Technical Assistant, Mrs Olufadeke Immanuel, said shortage of maritime infrastructure in Nigeria has largely reduced the nation’s ability to harness the full potential inherent in the industry.

“In order to leverage the inherent wealth of the maritime sector, it behoves on us as government and people, to commit our resources towards the development of requisite supporting infrastructure for the sector.

The Consul-General of France, Laurent Polonceaux, noted that Nigeria was surrounded by French-speaking neighbours as well as being the largest trading partner of France in West Africa.Polonceaux said the business interest of both countries pervaded all segments of economy value chain ranging from oil and gas, food and nutrition, pharmaceuticals, security, transportation, to logistics and Africa food production.

The Founder, Lagos International Maritime Week, Mrs Oritsematosan Edodo-Emore, said this year’s conference, themed “Developing Maritime Infrastructure in Africa,” argued that Africa’s development should define the vision for the industry by seeking international cooperation to actualise it.

According to her, Nigeria should take advantage of the global shortage of skilled maritime manpower by developing maritime education and training institutions, to produce skilled manpower for continental and global markets.

Source: The Guardian

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Human Rights and Wrongs

Dr. Sofia Galani, Lecturer in Law at the University of Bristol and a Non-Executive Board of Advisors member of Human Rights at Sea gave a short interview on piracy to the Navigate Response, a global crisis communications network specializing in the international shipping, port and offshore industries:

How have attitudes to human rights at sea changed over time regarding piracy?

Piracy and counter-piracy responses have had a tremendous impact on human rights both for those suspected of piracy and for seafarers. Maritime enforcement operations and the subsequent prosecutions and trials alerted the international community to the human rights abuses suspects of piracy might face.

Although it took more time for the human rights of seafarers attacked or kidnapped by pirates to attract attention, the human cost of piracy is now an important part of the human rights at sea debate. The hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants fleeing their countries on board unseaworthy boats and the increasing reports of slavery and abuses of seafarers and fishermen have also played a significant role in our current understanding of human rights at sea …It is high time that human rights at sea were effectively recognized and protected.

Regarding piracy, how are human rights affected between regions?

Different piracy models and bespoke counter-piracy mechanisms might affect human rights at sea differently in the various regions. The regional or international character of counter-piracy operations, for example, have a different impact on the human rights of piracy suspects. While the rights to life, liberty, fair trial and freedom from torture of all piracy suspects can be interfered with, Somalis have been at a more disadvantaged position. Somalis are often transferred to third states, where they have no ties, to be tried and prosecuted. They often have no contact with their families or face inconsistent punishments depending on domestic law.

To address these gaps, flag states, coastal states and the shipping industry have to work together towards improving the human and labor standards on board vessels as well as making available reporting mechanisms and remedies for victims of human rights violations at sea.

Source: Navigate Response

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MARINE NATIONALE SHIP LA FAYETTE SEIZES OVER $60M USD OF HEROIN IN RED SEA IN SUPPORT OF CTF 150

MARINE Nationale Frigate La Fayette continues to provide outstanding support to Combined Task Force 150 (CTF 150) and Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), by interdicting a suspicious dhow and seizing 260 Kgs of heroin on May 11, 2018. It is her third seizure of narcotics in less than a month.

In an operation coordinated by CTF 150 headquarters, Marine Nationale Frigate La Fayette was conducting maritime security operations and working closely with a French Navy Falcon patrol aircraft.  Together they located a suspicious vessel that La Fayette interdicted with assistance from her own Panther helicopter. The ship’s Commanding Officer determined that further action was required and quickly requested permission from Commander CTF 150 to activate a boarding team. A thorough search that lasted nearly 24 hours in rough sea conditions resulted in the seizure of 260 Kgs of heroin worth an estimated 61 million USD.

La Fayette’s success builds upon that of her sister frigate Marine Nationale Jean de Vienne, where together they have confiscated over 6 tonnes of hashish and 1.2 tonnes of heroin over the last two months, valued in excess of 1.9 billion USD.

Commander of CTF 150, Commodore Mal Wise, Royal Australian Navy, recognised that the continued success in removing illicit narcotics from the smuggling circuit is a testament to the hard work of naval units committed to CTF150 efforts ensuring the oceans are safe and used for legitimate purposes.

“The hard work, professionalism and dedication of the Officers and sailors in La Fayette is outstanding and a shining example of the French Navy’s commitment to ensure illicit narcotics do not make it to their intended destinations and are not used to fund terrorism”.

Now nearing the end of the Australian Command, CTF 150 continues to work hard in the region to counter narcotics smuggling and in turn counter terrorism which the narcotics trade funds. The current staff is supported by partners from France, New Zealand, Pakistan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Media note:  *This calculation is based on the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission Illicit Drug Data Report 2015–16 figures for Cannabis Resin (Hashish) at $39 USD per gram (p215) and Heroin at $235,000 USD per kilogram (p 216).

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Two more robberies against ships at Indonesian Samarinda anchorage

In its latest weekly report, the ReCAAP ISC informed of two recent incidents of armed robbery against ships in Asia. Both attacks were reported at Samarinda Anchorage, Muara Berau, East Kalimantan, Indonesia. ReCAAP ISC has earlier in the month informed of similar incidents against ships in this location.

The report also includes two incidents of armed robbery that occurred outside Asia, both in Takoradi Anchorage, Ghana, on 29 April and 3 May, respectively:

While the bulk carrier ‘North Colorado’ was anchored, one perpetrator boarded the poop deck of the ship from a small boat. The master raised the alarm, and the perpetrator jumped overboard towards a small boat located near the starboard side of the poop deck. After the incident, the master informed the flag State and increased the number of lookouts.

A few days later, while at anchor, two perpetrators were spotted by the Duty Watchkeeper at the main deck, starboard side, of the tug vessel ‘Name Withheld’. Upon being discovered, both perpetrators eventually jumped overboard and swam towards a canoe where a third person was waiting onboard. There was also no reported injury to crew. The padlock to the paint locker was broken. There was no item reported stolen.

The ReCAAP ISC urges ship master and crew to report all incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships to the nearest coastal State and flag State, exercise vigilance and adopt relevant preventive measures taking reference from the Regional Guide to Counter Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia.

Furthermore, a report from IMO GISIS stated that while transiting the Sibutu passage, Philippines, two high speed crafts were sighted approaching the bulk carrier ‘Berge K2’. As the boats closed to the ship, the crew saw a blue boat with two persons wearing face masks and a white boat with one person wearing a face mask. Two Philippine Naval patrol vessels contacted Berge K2 via VHF channel 16. The high-speed boats closed to three cables from the ship, noticed the hardening of the ship, crossed the ship’s stern and moved away.

Accordingly, the ship had received cautionary advice from the Philippine Navy and Coast Guard Coast Watch as they were transiting the Sibutu passage. The incident was reported to Philippines Coast Guard, Philippines Navy, MMEA Putrajaya, FOC RMN, Marine Police Malaysia & ESSCOM.

However, the Philippine Focal Point reported to the ReCAAP ISC that this incident ‘did not occurred‘ and therefore is not considered an incident of piracy or armed robbery against ships.

Source: Safety4Sea

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AGF seeks amendment to maritime laws

Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami (SAN) has urged the National Assembly to amend maritime laws to allow private guards carry arms onboard vessels.

Speaking at the Lagos International Maritime Week and exhibition hosted by Zoe Maritime Resources Limited in Lagos yesterday, the AGF said it was not lawful for armed guards to carry guns onboard merchant ships.

Represented by Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Financial Crimes, Biodun Aikomu, the AGF called on maritime stakeholders to rally round the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in order to take advantage of existing relationship between NIMASA and the Navy.

He said: “Maritime security has become an important requirement for merchant vessels over the last decade due to the increased threats from pirates across the world. The issue of maritime security in the Nigerian territorial waters is one that should be taken very seriously; human beings have the responsibility for self-preservation of lives and limbs, and by extension, private properties and investments.

“As to the legality or illegality of armed guards on merchant vessels in Nigeria, the debate should no longer be based on whether armed guards should be employed but rather how they can effectively, legally and safely be engaged, with the emphasis on accreditation and accountability.

“Even though Nigerian flagged vessels cannot make use of armed private security guards as the Law stands today, the reality is that there must be a dynamic strategy of dealing with the security challenges facing Merchant Vessels in the Nigerian waters.

“It may be necessary to amend the relevant laws in the long terms but in the meantime, stakeholders should develop a strategy to deal with the challenge within the permissible scope of powers of NlMASA in collaboration with the Nigerian Navy and Marine Police.”

Also speaking, the Commissioner, Lagos State Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Mrs Olayinka Oladunjoye lamented the inadequacy of maritime infrastructures in Nigeria which she said has largely reduced the country’s ability to harness the full potentials inherent in her maritime industry.

She said: “In order to benefit from the inherent wealth of the maritime sector, it behooves on us as government and people to commit our resources towards the development of requisite infrastructure for the sector.”

Oladunjoye called for investments in ports and terminals, cargo handling equipment, channels and harbors, warehouses, vessel repair and ship building yards, port access roads, inter-modal transport, ICT, deep seaport, power and water.

In her welcome address, convener of the event, Mrs Oritsematosan Edodo Emore said the introduction of the youth to the maritime industry is key to the long term development of maritime manpower in Africa.

The theme of the event was: ‘Developing Maritime Infrastructure in Africa’.

She said the Lagos Maritime Week is an event that brings together maritime stakeholders from around the globe to deliberate on concurrent challenges that face the industry, network and proffer solutions.

Source: The Nation

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IMO, EU NAVFOR leaders shed focus on coordination

Charlie Stickland, the Operational Commander Major General of EU NAVFOR (EU Naval Forces), met with Mr. Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of the IMO, on 11 May at IMO Headquarters in London. At the meeting, General Stickland updated Mr. Lim on EU NAVFOR’s counter-piracy Operation Atalanta.

 

Source: Safety4Sea
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Tackling Insecurity in the Niger Delta

Shell’s payment of $4.32 billion to the Nigerian government in 2017, despite the closure of the 400,000 barrels per day capacity Forcados Oil Terminal, has clearly demonstrated the potentially huge earnings in Nigeria’s oil sector if security challenges are fully addressed, Ejiofor Alike reports

Insecurity of crude oil and gas pipelines in the Niger Delta has remained a major risk peculiar to Nigeria’s operating environment, which has continued to drive the costs of oil and gas projects in the country above the global benchmark.

With persisting incidents of criminality, kidnapping, onshore and offshore piracy, as well as vandalism of oil and gas assets, Nigeria has become a high-risk environment where individual operators are forced to provide their own security with its attendant cost premium, which falls outside the companies’ direct sphere of influence.

Other cost drivers such as overregulation, bureaucracy and absence of infrastructure have compounded the problem of insecurity to drive the costs of oil and gas projects in Nigeria above global average.

According to a study by the Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS) of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), insecurity in the Niger Delta created a Nigeria-specific cost premium for the petroleum sector, with operating costs and projects costs significantly higher than in other countries by as much as 100 per cent.

In the OPTS report titled: “Nigeria Cost Premium and Drivers: Petroleum Sector,” the producers had stated that they spent five times more on security than their global peers, with a large chunk of expenditure on security services such as escort vessels, convoys and guards.

The report added that the companies also rely on costly transportation options for personnel and goods, such as helicopter transport and aviation as a result of the insecurity of Nigeria’s waterways, resulting in a cost premium of between 15 per cent and 65 per cent for operating costs, and 35 per cent and 100 per cent for costs of projects.

“Operational costs are impacted by incessant militant attacks and sabotage, illegal bunkering, piracy, kidnapping and armed robbery. In June 2016, production dropped to its lowest level in 20 years following a series of attacks on petroleum producing assets, including the Forcados pipeline, Escravos 24-inch gas pipeline, and Qua Iboe export line,” said the report.

The report added that security incidents fuels unforeseen costs and losses such as unplanned expenditure for emergency repairs arising from attacks and vandalism, as well as deferral of production and loss of income for the government and the operators as a result of disruption of operations.

On average, the report said about 400,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day was deferred in 2016 as a result of security challenges.
However, with the efforts pioneered by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, there has not been any major attack on crude oil pipelines by the Niger Delta militants since November 2016 when the Niger Delta Avengers last bombed the Forcados pipeline.

But the security environment in the oil and gas-producing region has remained volatile with day-to-day crude theft continuing unabated.
In its 2018 briefing notes, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) also identified insecurity in parts of the Niger Delta as a major challenge, stressing that the security situation remains volatile in the region.

Despite the absence of major attack since 2016, Shell still recorded a loss of about 9,000 barrels of oil a day in 2017 to crude oil theft, which is more than the approximate 6,000 barrels per day in 2016 but less than 25,000 bpd in 2015.
The number of sabotage-related spills in 2017 also increased to 62 compared to 48 in 2016 but less than 94 in 2015.
According to the oil major, the increase in 2017 can in part be explained by the militant-induced shutdown of the Forcados export terminal in 2016, which reduced opportunities for third party interference.

Indeed after three sabotage incidents in 2016, beginning with the subsea bombing of the Trans-Foracdos Pipeline by the Niger Delta Avengers in February, 2016, the operations at the SPDC’s Forcados Oil Terminal (FOT) was disrupted until late May 2017 when repairs to the export pipeline were completed.

Apart from the attack on the Forcados pipeline, the facilities operated by both indigenous and international oil and gas companies were also vandalised by attacks and other illegal activities such as crude oil theft.
This led to lower oil and gas production in 2016 particularly for oil producers and a loss of revenue for the federal government and disruptions to gas supply to power electricity for industry, businesses and public-sector services.

Huge revenues in oil and gas sector
Apart from the shutdown of Forcados export terminal, sabotage-related oil spill incidents in SPDC’s facilities also rose to 62, from 48 recorded in 2016, according to Shell’s Sustainability Report 2017
However, the volume of crude oil spilled fell to 1,400 tonnes, from 3,900 tonnes in 2016
Also, Shell’s operational spills in Nigeria rose by one to nine in 2017, but the volume of oil spilled fell to 100 tonnes from 300 tonnes in 2016, according to the report.

The report further revealed that theft and sabotage account for 90 per cent of the oil spills in the Niger Delta.
But despite these gloomy pictures of insecurity in the Niger Delta, the Royal Dutch Shell Plc paid $4.32 billion to the Nigerian Government in 2017, representing an increase of 19 per cent from the $3.64 billion the oil giant paid in 2016.
The Shell’s Sustainability Report 2017 showed that the $4.32 billion paid to Nigeria was the highest paid by the oil giant to any government in the 29 countries covered by the report.

Shell said the report includes payments to governments made by Royal Dutch Shell plc and its subsidiary undertakings.
The company however, added that payments made by entities over which Shell has joint control are excluded from this report.
The report also excludes payments related to refining, natural gas liquefaction or gas-to -liquids activities.

The multinational oil firm said in the report that out of the $4.32 billion paid in 2017, $3.197 billion was paid to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) for production entitlement.
The payments include production entitlements, which are the host government’s share of production in the reporting period derived from projects operated by Shell.

Production entitlements also include the government’s share as a sovereign entity or through its participation as an equity or interest holder in projects within its sovereign jurisdiction (home country).
The payments also include taxes paid by Shell on its income, profits or production, which include resource severance tax, and petroleum resource rent tax, including those settled by a government on behalf of Shell under a tax-paid concession.

The report also showed that crude oil theft from pipelines of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) increased by 50 per cent, to roughly 9,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2017 from 6,000 bpd in 2016.
The report further added that SPDC also “made $10 million available” in 2017 to help set up the Hydrocarbon Pollution and Remediation Project (HYPREP), a government-led body to clean up contaminated sites
Despite the enormous security challenges, the oil giant to pay $4.32 billion to the Nigerian Government in 2017, which represents 19 per cent increase from the $3.64 billion paid in 2016.

Apart from the Forcados attacks that impacted Shell’s production, other oil giants also suffered production and revenue losses as Chevron’s Escravos 24-inch gas pipeline, and ExxonMobil’s Qua Iboe export line were also heavily impacted.
The payment of $4.32 billion by Shell in the face of insecurity of assets and manpower were clear indications that the country would have earned much higher from the international oil companies (IOCs) and the Nigerian independent producers if the security challenges had been tackled.

Targeting zero oil theft
To boost crude oil production and revenues accruing to the Nigerian government, the various tiers of government, host communities and the operating companies should collaboratively tackle insecurity to achieve zero oil theft.

Although, the 9,000 barrels per day lost to theft by Shell in 2017 was an improvement to the 25,000 bpd lost in 2015, the loss of production to theft by producing companies is largely peculiar to the Nigerian operating environment.

Indeed, the federal government and the companies have made a lot of efforts to curb destructive attacks on oil and gas assets, as well as personnel but crude oil theft has continued unabated.

To the Managing Director of SPDC and Country Chairman of Shell Companies in Nigeria, Mr. Osagie Okunbor, the companies will only experience a relief when crude oil theft is reduced to zero.
“In terms of volume, it is correct to say that it has come down but 9,000 bpd is still too much. So, we have to keep the pressure on until we get to a stage where all the oil remains in the pipeline until it gets to the terminals,” he said.

 

Source: This Day

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Jeddah workshop aims to ensure safe and secure regional waters

Signatory States to an agreement aimed at repressing piracy, armed robbery and illicit maritime activity in the western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden Area have agreed that building response capability and information sharing are vital steps towards achieving a more safe and secure maritime environment.

The signatories to the revised Code of Conduct concerning the repression of piracy, armed robbery against ships and illicit maritime activity in the western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden Area, known as the Jeddah Amendment to the Djibouti Code of Conduct 2017, were meeting In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for a high level workshop (7-10 May) for all signatory States and States eligible to sign the Jeddah Amendment, donors and implementing partners.

The workshop, convened by IMO with the theme of “Taking action to enhance regional maritime security”, discussed the next steps in implementing the Djibouti Code of Conduct and its 2017 Jeddah Amendments, in order to strengthen regional cooperation and information sharing to ensure safe and secure regional waters. Information sharing could include data related to maritime crimes, best practices, legal frameworks, training programmes and national initiatives that will lead to enhanced maritime domain awareness – the effective understanding of what happens at sea and effective maritime security.

The participants agreed that piracy off the coast of Somalia is contained, but continues to be a threat. A long term comprehensive solution is required that also addresses other maritime security issues. These could include transnational organised crimes, including smuggling of people, trafficking of drugs, weapons, wildlife, and charcoal, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, violent extremism and maritime terrorism, including the risk of attacks against oil and gas installations and transport systems, They also emphasized the need to consider good maritime security as a prerequisite for a well-developed maritime sector in the region and for a thriving blue economy within the context of sustainable development goals.

The participants re-emphasised their commitment to developing capability, legal frameworks and inter-agency cooperation at national level as the foundation for effective regional cooperation in tackling maritime insecurity. This will allow countries to develop and strengthen the opportunities provided by the blue economy for the well-being of their respective population.

Following a range of presentations, participants and observer delegations witnessed a large-scale exercise and demonstration by the Border Guard of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which included a number of maritime focussed scenarios. Briefings by all participants on national achievements, plans and provided an opportunity for experience sharing and lessons learned, to enhance alignment of national plans with regional plans and to facilitate requests for external assistance from development partners.

The Participants and observer delegations also benefitted from a visit to the state-of-the-art Jeddah Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre and received a demonstration of the MRCCs capability. Participants and observer delegations also had the opportunity to visit the excellent training facilities and instructors at the Mohammed bin Naif Academy for Maritime Science and Security Studies which have facilitated the provision of high quality training to maritime security practitioners throughout the region.

The workshop, held at the Mohammed bin Naif Academy for Maritime Science and Security Studies in Jeddah, was hosted by the Border Guard of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, by kind permission of HRH Prince AbdulAziz bin Saud bin Naif bin AbdulAziz, Minister of Interior of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It was opened by Vice Admiral Awwad Eid Al-Balawi, Director General of the Border Guard of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Mr. Chris Trelawny, Special Advisor to the Secretary-General of IMO.

The high-level meeting was attended by representatives from: Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Jordan, Kenya, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, United Republic of Tanzania and Yemen. Observers attended from: Denmark, Japan, Norway, United Kingdom and United States. Representatives also attended from the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the European Union, the Indian Ocean Commission, the International Criminal Police Organisation – INTERPOL, the East Africa Standby Force and the One Earth Future Foundation.
The workshop participants welcomed the capacity building work of international organisations, including IMO, INTERPOL, and the UNODC, as well as non-governmental organizations, including the One Earth Future Foundation’s Stable Seas project and the SafeSeas initiative led by Cardiff University. Donors were thanked, in particular Japan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for their contributions to the Djibouti Code of Conduct Trust Fund administered by IMO. Further donations were requested to support the implementation of the Code, including assistance to the Djibouti Regional Training Centre.

Source: IMO

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EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia: operation to contribute to better information sharing on crime in the Mediterranean

The Council yesterday adopted a decision allowing for the creation of a crime information cell within EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia. The information cell will be composed of up to 10 staff members from relevant law enforcement authorities of member states and from the EU agencies FRONTEX and EUROPOL in order to improve information sharing between them.

The cell will be tasked to facilitate the receipt, collection and transmission of information on human smuggling and trafficking, the implementation of the UN arms embargo on Libya, illegal trafficking, as well as crimes relevant to the security of the operation itself.

Background
EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia is the EU naval operation set up to disrupt the business model of migrant smugglers and human traffickers in the Southern Central Mediterranean. Since the beginning of the active phase of the operation (October 2015), the operation has contributed to the arrest and transfer to the Italian authorities of 143 suspected smugglers and traffickers, and has neutralised 545 vessels. In addition, the operation has helped rescue 44251 lives.

The operation has also a number of supporting tasks:

  • training the Libyan Coastguard and Navy, and monitor the trainees to ensure the long-term efficiency of this training,
  • contributing to the implementation of the UN arms embargo on the high seas off the coast of Libya in accordance with UNSCR 2292 (2016) and 2357 (2017) and
  • conducting surveillance activities and gather information on illegal trafficking of oil exports from Libya in accordance with UNSCR 2146 (2014) and 2362 (2017).

The operation was launched on 22 June 2015 and its current mandate runs until 31 December 2018. EUNAVFOR MED’s Operation Commander is Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino, from Italy. The headquarters of the mission are located in Rome.
Source: European Council

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Most Pirate Attacks Don’t Have Hollywood Endings

I watched Captain Phillips again the other night with my 14-year-old daughter. It is a good film combining Hollywood action with sufficient grounding in fact to justify the “based on real events” tag.

But as those of us involved in the shipping industry know, it is untypical. The presence of American nationals among the crew of the Maersk Alabama triggered an overwhelming military response involving a number of U.S. warships and snipers from the covert U.S. Navy SEALs. In the finest traditions of the film industry it contains plenty of heroics and a happy ending; but it is untypical and because of that it does not serve seafarers well. For the vast majority of the ships’ crews who are the victims of piracy there is no Hollywood ending.

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) published its most recent annual piracy report a couple of months ago. The good news is that the number of reported attacks last year was only(!) 180 and continues the general trend over the last five years of a steady reduction in the number of attacks. Moreover there is nothing to suggest an imminent return to the industrial scale hijackings in the Gulf of Aden of eight years ago. But 180 attacks is still 180 too many. On average once every two days a merchant ship is attacked by criminal gangs using guns and knives to threaten and harm the crew for commercial gain.

Three seafarers lost their lives as a result of such attacks in 2017. 91 were held hostage. This remains an unacceptable state of affairs ignored by the world’s media. When did you last see a piracy incident reported on the main stream news channels? And the so-called saviors of real news – The Twitterati – are all it seems too busy discussing the latest reality shows to stop and think; where was my phone made? How was it transported to the shop in which I bought it? What risks do I expect seafarers to run so that I can comment on social media on Ms Kardashian’s latest outfit?

There is no such antipathy from shipowners. I have always been impressed by the commitment of shipowners to the welfare of their crew involved in such incidents. Without exception, everything we as a P&I Club recommend in terms of bonus payments, medical support and counseling is invariably taken up by the owners whose ships and crews have been involved in such attacks. Maybe it is because all shipping companies employ seafarers that such incidents are taken seriously. For shipowners, it’s personal.

And working for a Club I have had the privilege – and it is a privilege, albeit a harrowing one – to read statements taken from crew members who have survived such attacks. I cannot really imagine what it must feel like to see armed Somalis forcing their way through razor wire onto my ship – my home. What sort of thoughts goes through your mind when Nigerian gangsters take control of your ship with no regard for your welfare intent only on stealing cargo?  How do you cope with being held hostage on the bridge of a ship for 18 months? Yet those are the risks consumers expect of the seafarers who ply the world’ s seas bringing us the latest television or phone or fashions.

So while the figure of 180 reported attacks is the lowest annual number since 1995, shipping has a right to expect the world to take note that this problem has not gone away. Indeed there are signs that such incidents are again on the increase. The incidence of first quarter pirate attacks is markedly up in 2018 when compared with the preceding four years.

Just because attacks in the Gulf of Aden have reduced does not mean that there is not potential for the problem to flare up elsewhere. Today West Africa is causing concern. For the first three months of 2018, 66 merchant ships were reported to have been the victims of an actual or attempted attack, with a third of such incidents taking place off Nigeria – more than double the highest number of incidents in the preceding four years. The number of attacks off Benin stood at five when none had been reported over the first quarter of the previous four years.

The situation off West Africa has prompted the IMB to issue a warning for the region, and while the first three months of the year have historically always been the most active in the region there is no guarantee that a seasonal reduction in such activity should now occur. It is only when national governments take the problem seriously and commit resources to addressing it that piracy can be tackled. The reduction in the activities of Somali pirates shows this.

Piracy in the Gulf of Aden reduced through a combination of military effort and political commitment. Taken together military assets in the region, armed guards on ships, political developments in Somalia and a purpose built court and prison all combined to reduce Somali piracy to more manageable levels.

In West Africa much is going to depend on the ability of the Nigerian Navy to regain the initiative following this years increase in activity, and that in part is dependent on the Nigerian government addressing the lack of technical expertise available to it. So the announcement that Nigeria will spend $186 million to combat piracy in a bid to safeguard its waters is welcome – one country at least that is committing real resources to deal with the obscenity that is modern piracy.

And yet for the majority of those not involved in shipping, piracy remains an invisible crime involving invisible seafarers. If I can make one plea it is that we all need to do more to publicize the risks run by seafarers and increase awareness of the human cost involved.

Mike Salthouse is Deputy Global Director (Claims) for the North of England P&I Association Ltd.

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