Monday, April 4, 2011

Opposing view: 'Provide more naval assets'

By Giles Noakes

Somali pirates continue to challenge international trade and shipping by attacking ships transiting the sea lanes along which 40% of the world's oil moves. The shipping industry remains amazed that the oil exporting and importing nations of the world continue to blindly accept this significant threat to their economies. The freedom of navigation on the high seas, through what can only be described as economic strategic choke points, is vital. This must be upheld by governments.

OUR VIEW: Shippers make themselves easy prey for Somali pirates
The numbers of military assets provided to address the problem are clearly inadequate, and the industry cannot reinforce enough the urgent need to provide more naval assets to deter and defeat piracy in the Indian Ocean. Ship owners might soon conclude that the risk to their crews, ships and cargo is simply unacceptable and thus be impelled to boycott the region.

USA TODAY's news staff.

Most editorials are accompanied by an opposing view — a unique USA TODAY feature that allows readers to reach conclusions based on both sides of an argument rather than just the Editorial Board's point of view.
There is no acceptable level of piracy; it simply must be eradicated! The international community has failed to respond sufficiently robustly to the menace of piracy and has allowed it to escalate in the region during the past two years. Recently, a seafarer representative organization has hinted that owners of attacked or hijacked ships might be accused of corporate manslaughter in the event of casualties, further reinforcing the arguments for discontinuing trading in the area.

The demand for compulsory compliance with best management practices is understandable, but statistics show that 80% of ships are actually compliant. There is every indication that the overwhelming majority of merchant ships — regardless of the lack of regulation — are very well protected against piracy.

What is needed is for governments to develop a comprehensive strategy to effectively deal with the problem at sea as well as ashore. Enough is enough! Tough and effective action needs to be taken now to restore law and order in the region. If this comes at a cost, then that is a cost the international community must accept in return for a cost-effective and well-functioning supply chain of goods, vital to world trade and the global economy.

Giles Noakes is chief maritime security officer for The Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), the world's largest private shipping organization.

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