Ransom pay to pirates rises 100%

Piracy activity in December 2010 and January 2011 have far exceeded those for the corresponding periods in 2010, say experts (AP)

There has been a hundred per cent increase in the ransom paid to pirates following hijackings in 2010, a senior industry official has said.

Experts from the maritime and shipping industry who had gathered in Dubai for the Piracy Seminar on Tuesday were of the opinion that the combined naval forces had failed to control or restrain the pirates during the past 12 months.

According to Stephen Askins from the International Law firm, Ince and Co, “the levels of piracy activity in December 2010 and January 2011 have far exceeded those for the corresponding periods in 2010.”

Although it is difficult to calculate the exact amount that has been paid as ransom, Askins said the number has increased “by almost 100 per cent.”

Lt Cdr Allan Eastham, Commanding officer at UK Maritime Trade Organization (UKMTO) in Dubai was of the opinion that the battle against pirates cannot be won by the navy alone.

“The navy cannot win this war. It needs a political solution,” he said.

According to him the forces currently have about six vessels patrolling the IRTC, while the remaining 25 vessels stationed in other areas. “The area in which the pirates operate has widened quite significantly. Earlier it was just along the Somalian border, today it has reached as far as the coast of Oman,” he added.

When specifically asked why naval forces are unable to identify the location of the mother ships and destroy them, Eastham said that such intelligence and data was not shared with his organisation.

Meanwhile, according to experts the demand for armed guards within a vessel has also intensified and today there are more owners resorting to weapons on board compared to last March.

In February, the International Chamber of Shipping, (ICS) changed its position about the presence of armed guards, and recognized that the weapons were only being used off Somalia. According to experts until today no ship with armed guards on boats has been hijacked.

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