Seamen`s union: Pirate-invested waters too dangerous to transit

Time:2009-11-27 Browse:16 Author:RISINGSUN

THE International Transport Workers` Federation (ITF) Seafarers Section is urging ships not to transit the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia owing to the growing problem of piracy which has now spread to the wider Indian Ocean.
"Save in exceptional circumstances, ships should not transit the (affected) area. The risk of attack is now so great that putting seafarers in harm`s way amounts to a breach of the ship owner`s duty of care," said an ITF statement that called on the wider shipping industry to support this position and to take all measures to ensure the protection of seafarers.
The exceptional circumstances under which a ship would be allowed to transit these pirate-infested waters are when the ship has "adequate naval escort," or "the ship can be classified as low risk and has a proven level of protection measures in place," the ITF said.
In a motion adopted by its Fair Practices Committee, the ITF said that flag states and shipowners have to assess the risks and act definitively to combat them, or "risk finding themselves outside the law."
Said the union group: "Seafarers should suffer no detriment from refusing to take ships into these high risk areas. Seafarers have a right to refuse to put themselves in harm`s way and the right to be relieved before the ship enters a high risk area."