U S Coastguard Helping Asian Countries Against Piracy
Neighboring countries working together in Asia have reduced serious maritime piracy incidents but the concept needs to be expanded, according to experts at the first gathering of the South Asia Regional Port Security Cooperative (SARPSCO), supported by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Southeast Asia is no longer regarded as the world's most dangerous piracy zone because of joint maritime and aerial patrolling among the littoral states of the Malacca Strait, said conference speakers.
For the most serious types of piracy, where entire ships are seized and crews removed, sometimes being thrown overboard, "the numbers have indeed shown a downward trend over the last five years," says Nicholas Teo, the Deputy Director of the Information Sharing Center of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP).
Countering piracy, robberies and terrorism at ports and at sea by sharing information, best practices and resources are being discussed here at a first-of-its-kind port security conference for nine central Indian Ocean maritime states. They are: Bangladesh, Comoros, India, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Oman, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
In addition to coast guards, customs agencies, maritime administrations, navies and transportation ministries, also attending SARPSCO are international port operators.
While the situation in Southeast Asia has improved, the number of violent attacks on commercial vessels and pleasure craft is increasing elsewhere, notably in the western Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden and Red Sea.
The U.S. Coast Guard facilitated the inaugural four-day SARPSCO meeting.
"We have been and are able to offer capacity building to the region," says Capt. Gerald M. Swanson, commanding officer of U.S. Coast Guard Activities Far East. "We are willing to share information and best security practices with all maritime stakeholders."
US Coast Guard Activities Far East, headquartered at Tokyo, is one of only two overseas Coast Guard commands and responsible for facilitating port security, maritime safety and international engagement throughout a 41-nation Asia-Pacific region.
Comment: There is still a need to be vigilant. While the commercial acts are declining, there are still attacks occurring against pleasure craft - please be vigilant about providing your own self protection.