[Editor's Note: pirates make up one of the most interesting communities on the planet. They have been around since the beginning of, well, communities - in fact, I would argue that piracy is the oldest trade. The article below was previously posted by Godfrey von Bismarck on the site HR Wire.ca. It is important because the story reflects that history happens in cycles. The annals of British, French, Dutch, Chinese, Arabian, Persian, and Bahamanian histories possess thousands of accounts like the one below - once again, shipping companies are hiring armed security forces to defend against pirates. This is not a new or novel thing. And Kurt Vonnegut would say, "so it goes."]
As pirates continue to prey on ships off the Somali coast, Singapore and the International Chamber of Shipping are calling for “the employment of private armed security service providers onboard ships to counter piracy in the Gulf of Aden, the Western Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea.” Their proposal will go before the International Maritime Organization in early May 2011.
The ongoing piracy crisis off the Somali coast has been impacting the B.C. shipping business causing disruption to its routes and a sharp rise in costs. “Effectively, the Suez Canal, one of the world’s busiest and most profitable marine routes, is off limits to us,” said Samuel Tang, vice-president, chartering and operations for Fairmont Shipping (Canada) Ltd. to the Vancouver Sun. “The incidences of piracy are just too great. Piracy has forced us to decline certain charter contracts, it forces us to take longer, less-profitable routes and it’s costing us revenue every day.”
Other members of B.C.’s shipping community agree that the piracy situation is dire and argue governments could be doing more. “Piracy is claiming innocent lives and threatening global trade every day. I don’t think governments are aware just how bad it has become,” said Stephen Brown , president of the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia. “Right now, more than 720 sailors are being held hostage on 34 ships in the Indian Ocean. It’s a staggering situation and it’s costing global economies up to $12 billion a year.”
Fairmont Shipping has also joined a campaign putting pressure on governments to take a firmer stance against piracy. SOS Save Our Seafarers is spearheaded by the International Transport Worker’s Federation, the Baltic and International Maritime Council, and the International Chamber of Shipping.