Today (29 September 2011) marks the 34th celebration of World Maritime Day. This year’s theme is: "Piracy: orchestrating the response", a theme chosen by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to provide the international community and the shipping industry with an opportunity to highlight and reflect upon the efforts made to meet the challenges of modern-day piracy.
In his World Maritime Day message, IMO Secretary-General Efthimios E. Mitropoulos said that the United Nations, alliances (political and defence) of States, Governments acting collectively or individually, military forces, shipping companies, ship operators and ships’ crews, all had a crucial part to play in order to rid the world of the threat posed by piracy in the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean.
“To alleviate this unacceptable situation, no effort should be spared. Shipping companies must ensure that their ships rigorously apply the IMO guidance and industry-developed Best Management Practices in their entirety, so that, when venturing into the western Indian Ocean region, they comply with all the recommended measures: no ship is invulnerable, in particular those with relatively low freeboards and slow steaming speeds. And Governments need to back up their oft-stated concern over the situation by deploying military and other resources commensurate, in numbers and technology, with the scale of the problem and with a realistic chance of dealing with it effectively,” Mr. Mitropoulos said.
“While IMO has positioned itself in the epicentre of the concerted efforts being made, it cannot alone supply an instant solution to the issue – particularly since, although piracy manifests itself at sea, the roots of the problem are to be found ashore. Nevertheless, through our action plan and other initiatives, and in collaboration with other interested parties, equally determined and committed as ourselves, we feel confident we will be able to make a difference where the problem is being most acutely felt – at sea,” he added.
Mr. Mitropoulos noted that some success in thwarting pirate attacks can already be claimed, as can be seen from the falling percentage of attacks that prove successful. “Nevertheless, as the statistics so bleakly indicate, piracy and armed robbery against ships remain real and ever-present dangers to those who use the seas for peaceful purposes. So long as pirates continue harassing shipping, hijacking ships and seafarers, we are neither proud of, nor content with, the results achieved so far,” he said.
Concluding his World Maritime Day message, Mr. Mitropoulos said: “More needs to be done, including the capture, prosecution and punishment of all those involved in piracy; the tracing of ransom money; and the confiscation of proceeds of crime derived from hijacked ships, if the ultimate goal of consigning piracy to the realms of history is to be achieved. We hope that our choice of the theme for 2011 will provide an appropriate rallying point around which all those who can make a difference can focus their efforts.
“In the meantime, our thoughts and prayers are with those seafarers, who, at present, are in the hands of pirates. May they all be released unharmed and returned to their families soon.”
World Maritime Day Parallel Event in Italy
Italy is hosting the 2011 IMO World Maritime Day Parallel Event, with celebrations being held in Rome on 13 and 14 October 2011. The Parallel Event will focus on this year's World Maritime Day theme: "Piracy: orchestrating the response" and the first day will consist of a seminar, divided into two sessions. The first session will address “Anti-piracy Measures and Best Practices”, while the second will focus on “International Co-operation against Piracy”.
On the second day, various activities will take place around the Civitavecchia harbour.
The event will be preceded by a regional meeting to discuss a draft memorandum of understanding on concerted procedures relating to the disembarkation of persons rescued at sea, many of whom turn out to be trafficked and undocumented migrants.
IMO – the International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.
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