Global threats to maritime industry far from eradicated

Global threats to the maritime industry are far from eradicated, and the need to regulate and police the maritime domain to tackle these threats is as pressing as ever, said Phil Cable, CEO of MAST, a maritime security company.

Speaking at the Maritime Law Association of Australia and New Zealand (MLAANZ) Conference 2015 in Perth, Australia last week, Cable said, “The global threats faced by the maritime environment, whether it be terrorist, pirate, illegal fishing, human trafficking or narcotics smuggling, stem from lack of law and order.

“The reason for this is that many states lack the organization, finance or will to police and manage their territorial waters or economic zone, or they are, like Yemen, Libya or Somalia failed or near failed states thus creating a permissive environment for criminality,” Cable said in a statement.

He said although “the Indian Ocean can now be considered one of the safest oceans on the planet, the threat of piracy has not been eliminated. It is international navies on patrol, Best Management Practices 4 (BMP4) and armed guards that are preventing a return to piracy by Somalis. This, combined with a recent spate of attacks in South East Asia, the Gulf of Guinea and increased people trafficking out of Libya, and between Yemen and the Horn of Africa, suggests that global threats to shipping are far from eradicated.”

Cable explained there are two main types of threats to shipping in South East Asia in the form of violent boardings and robberies, and more sophisticated attacks in which a vessel’s cargo is stolen. The threat in the Gulf of Guinea is dominated by boardings with the purpose of kidnapping crew members for ransom.

“One of the main challenges to address these threats is the lack of regional cooperation creating a plethora of legal and jurisdictional requirements as well as the lack of acceptance that public-private partnerships are the key to develop a sustainable force capable of regulating and policing the maritime flank,” Cable said.

“Maritime crime is a problem that needs engagement from all players — government, law enforcement, the shipping industry and its associates which include the security industry,” Cable added, noting that, “Growing the capabilities to manage the maritime domain is complex and must be underpinned by high standards of training for Coast Guard operators and maritime law enforcement officers. The private sector is inherently well equipped to step in and provide governments with the assistance they need to develop their ability to manage their maritime tapestry.” 

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