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Ship owners gathered at the ICC 35th World Congress today called for coordinated naval patrols among South East Asian governments to counter the growing threat of piracy.

Alan Chan,
whose vessel Petro Ranger was hijacked in 1999 in the South China Sea said
vessel attacks in South East Asia arose from a serious lack of resources on the
part of the Indonesian government which made it impossible for the Indonesian
Navy and Police to effectively patrol their extensive coastline.

 

He said
that the situation was not likely to change in the short term and therefore
there was a continuing risk to shipping in Indonesian waters, which includes
the Malacca Straits – still the most dangerous waters in the world.

 

He called
for an integrated approach to South East Asian regional security which involved
not only the littoral states, but also trading nations who benefited from the
use of this major international seaway.

 

“We
must find a mechanism which allows for effective maritime law enforcement and
which does not stop at the limits of a nation’s territorial waters,” he
said. “The pirate boats certainly do not.”

 

Mr Chan was
speaking at the World Congress session: “The spreading scourge of
piracy”, chaired by Mr Hans Bjontegard, Chairman of the Board of the ICC
Commercial Crime Services.

 

The session
discussed the ease with which hijacked vessels change their identity and called
for registries to tighten up procedures and be subject to an independent audit.

 

Chris
Horrocks of the International Chamber of Shipping and John Bainbridge of the
International Transport Workers Federation reiterated the long held industry
view that arming merchant crews in response to such attacks was inappropriate.

 

Captain
Pottengal Mukundan of the International Maritime Bureau, which runs the Piracy
Reporting Centre in Kuala Lumpur, said the responsibility of keeping coastal
waters safe must remain with the coastal state.

 

“There
are numerous recent examples of countries who prioritised this crime, allocated
resources and the attacks have promptly reduced,” he said.

 

Captain
Andrew Mitchell of Lloyds Register said the ISPS Code would help develop a
culture of maritime security, but warned that with the deadline for implementation
of the code only weeks away, many ports and vessels would not be ready, which
could lead to vessels being delayed upon arrival in many ports.