Dec 3, 2009

New counter piracy guidelines released

New counter piracy guidelines released

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

December 3 2009

The Australian Government has published new guidelines outlining measures shipping operators and seafarers should take in order to detect, deter and prevent piracy and robbery at sea.

Today I released our new Counter Piracy Advisory Guidelines during my attendance at the International Maritime Organisation’s General Assembly in London – one of a number of international organisations that have strongly supported the development of this document.

The Guidelines, for example, recommend:

  • Masters should prepare anti-piracy training practices and procedures that ensure that the ship’s crew have a good working knowledge and understanding of the basic security measures and requirements for preventing or delaying unauthorised access to the ship whilst at sea, at anchor or alongside a port berth.
  • Masters should prepare an emergency communication plan, to include all essential emergency contact numbers and pre-prepared messages. Such communication plans should be readily at hand or permanently displayed near the communications console on the ships bridge for instant reference in any piracy or robbery at sea related incident.

While the Guidelines are primarily designed for international commercial shipping, they also provide advice to the operators of fishing vessels and pleasure yachts.

The Guidelines were developed by the Inspector of Transport Security, Mick Palmer AO APM, and I thank him for the work he has done and the comprehensive, professional assessment he has undertaken.

The resurgence of piracy – particularly in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia – poses a serious threat to world trade. Within our own region of South East Asia there have been 50 incidents of piracy already this year.

On a positive note, coordinated action by the region’s governments has significantly reduced incidents of piracy within the Malacca Straits to just 2 in 2008 – down from 12 the previous year.

The Australian economy is particularly reliant on the global maritime industry, with 99 per cent of our exports transported by sea. That’s why the Government is acting to make sure an appropriate framework is in place to safeguard our maritime industry and the many Australians who travel through international waters every year.

The new Guidelines complement other anti-piracy measures the Government has taken, including:

  • Co-sponsoring a resolution at the United Nations to strengthen international efforts to fight piracy;
  • Deploying two Anzac-class frigates and an AP-3C Orion patrol aircraft as part of international efforts to deter piracy in the Gulf of Aden;
  • Providing two enforcement experts to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime Counter Piracy Program in Nairobi to assisting Kenyan authorities process apprehended piracy suspects.

The new Guidelines are now available to Australian seafarers and can be obtained by emailing the Office of Inspector of Transport Security: [email protected].


Development of the Counter Piracy Advisory Guidelines

On 2nd February 2009, the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Anthony Albanese, directed the Inspector of Transport Security, Mick Palmer, to conduct an Inquiry under the Inspector of Transport Security Act 2006, into International Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea as a serious international transport security matter of concern to the Australian Federal Government.

The purpose of the Inquiry was to gain an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the impact or potential impact of current worldwide acts of piracy on Australian maritime trade.

It also assessed prevailing levels of shipping security and identifying ways in which security arrangements for Australian international shipping and foreign registered international shipping carrying Australian cargo and their crews could be further improved.

As part of the Inquiry process the Inspector worked closely with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the international shipping industry. It drew heavily from Maritime Circulars and Best Management Practices in developing the Advisory Guidelines aimed at providing a broad range of advice for ship owners, ship masters and crew, for both piracy on the high seas and robbery at sea in the territorial waters of a State.

Whilst the current incidents of piracy and hijacking for ransom in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia pose a particularly serious threat to world trade, the potential threat to international shipping and crew from piracy and robbery at sea attacks is one which has global proportions.

The Advisory Guidelines outline preventive measures recommended to be considered to detect, deter and prevent piracy and robbery at sea attacks wherever they may occur. Whilst the primary focus is on international commercial shipping, advice is also provided for fishing vessels and pleasure yachts transiting piracy and robbery at sea risk waters.

The development of the Guidelines has been strongly supported by the Australian shipping industry, IMO, International Maritime Bureau and international shipping industry peak bodies.