Although we haven't seen much national press about it recently, piracy remains a formidable threat in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. Obviously, the risks are particularly acute for shippers that routinely traverse those waters, and now, the world's three largest container shipping companies have decided to join forces in hopes of combating the problem.
CMA CGM, MSC and Maersk Line announced last week that they have formed a new partnership designed to: 1) foster information exchange on safety measures, piracy policies and procedures, and 2) coordinate efforts for addressing the issue with all relevant stakeholders.
In particular, CMA CGM, MSC and Maersk Line say they support:
the use and further development of Anti-Piracy Best Management Practices for safe sailing in the area where the Somali pirates continue to attack and hijack vessels,
the international community's efforts to fight the problem of piracy in terms of the naval presence in the Gulf of Aden,
the pursuit of appropriate legal frameworks to ensure pirates are prosecuted and held responsible for their crimes, and
proposals for regional capacity building to address the issue such as a regional coast guard and possible transit corridors to East Africa.
"The root causes of this problem cannot be addressed overnight. Therefore, it is imperative that the naval forces have a strong and dynamic mandate to match the constantly changing situation in the area. It is also vital that the acts of piracy do not go unpunished, which is why appropriate legal frameworks for prosecuting pirates are needed," CMA CGM, MSC and Maersk Line said.
Most analysts I talk to agree that the issues surrounding piracy are complex and prickly. However, I believe this collaboration among container shipping companies is a great first step toward mitigating the risks associated with sailing in what unfortunately have become very dangerous waters.