Participants at the recent 21st Asian Shipowners' Forum (ASF), which concluded its annual meeting in Port Douglas, Australia, have demonstrated their support for the SaveOurSeafarers (SOS) Campaign, an international non-profit, anti-piracy campaign launched in March last year by a group of five maritime associations, according to Exim News Service.
Over the last seven years, more than 62 seafarers have been murdered and more than 3,000 held hostage from the almost 200 ships hijacked by Somali pirates off the coast of Somalia, Gulf of Aden and the wider Indian Ocean.
Piracy cost the global economy an estimated $ 5-7 billion last year, including protective measures to safeguard ships and crew, increased insurance costs, as well as millions of dollars in ransom money.
ASF has appreciated that in March this year, the European Council permitted their naval forces to take disruptive action against known pirate supplies on the Somalia shore. Mr Noel Hart, Chairman of the 21st ASF, said: "The operations carried out by EU naval forces on May 15, 2012 to disrupt pirate supplies and bases on the Somali shoreline is welcome and has sent a clear signal that piracy cannot be tolerated. Blatant attacks on innocent ships and seafarers must be stopped! The ASF urges continuing and stronger political will to address the root causes of piracy—on land in Somalia."
Mr Patrick Phoon, Chairman of the safe navigation and environment committee, said that ASF is developing a counter piracy proposal in response to the continuing threat of Somali piracy, the details of which will be presented to Working Group 1 of the Contact Group for Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS).
ASF expressed its deep concern for the well-being of the 197 seafarers currently being held hostage on hijacked ships, as well as seven Indian seafarers who continue to be held hostage despite payment of ransom.