Superyacht News: Piracy Ransoms Task Force Recommendations

The 14-nation multilateral Piracy Ransoms Task Force, established by British Prime Minister David Cameron in February 2012, has published its recommendations to the maritime and private security sectors.

The task force made four recommendations in its final report to the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia during a meeting in New York:

Develop a new strategic partnership between flag states, the private sector and law enforcement agencies that brings together those tackling piracy and those subjected to it in a united effort to break the piracy business model; Develop a more co-ordinated approach to information-sharing to provide evidence to pursue and prosecute all involved in piracy; Strengthen co-ordination between flag states, the private sector and military responders to prepare for potential hostage situations; and encourage implementation of anti-piracy measures, including greater compliance with Best Management Practice.

The task force comprised the world’s leading flag states, representatives of nations most vulnerable to piracy and the countries leading the response to it. 

Commenting on the recommendations made, Mr Cameron said: “Today’s conclusions from the Piracy Ransoms Task Force are a welcome step in the right direction. International action, led by the UK, is starting to beat back in the global fight against piracy. The dramatic reduction in pirate activity in the past year shows how important collective action is, and the recommendations of the Task Force should make it harder for pirates to receive, and to profit from, ransom payments. But seafarers of all nations remain at risk, and we must continue to work to break the piracy business model, with the ultimate ambition of bringing an end to ransom payments.”

But for insurers and private security companies working in the superyacht sector, whose wealthy clients are particularly vulnerable to kidnapping and ransom attempts, the task force’s recommendations need to be implemented before they can have a tangible impact on reducing the threat, as Andy Young, managing director of private security firm Special Projects and Services explained: “We support the overall aim of breaking the piracy business model and it will undoubtedly require a multi-faceted approach to reach a long-term sustainable solution.”

In my opinion avoiding an incident taking place in the first instance is the critical issue for owners”, Young said. “Whilst understanding the desire not to encourage piracy by preventing the payment of ransoms one has to wonder what options might be left open to the owners to secure the safe release if money is ruled out and what the legal stance will be if this leads to long term hardship or death of a ship's crew.”

Ian Millen, director of intelligence at Dryad Maritime Intelligence, also welcomed the recommendations but agrees that discourse needs to be converted into actions in order for the problem to be remedied. Currently, said Millen, “the maritime industry has few options when it comes to liberating vessels in pirate hands and is currently paying a high premium for the funds it accesses to pay ransoms through Kidnap and Ransom (K&R) insurance.” “The Piracy Ransoms Task Force work toward eradicating piracy should be applauded”, Millen added, “provided that this is not simply a first step toward the banning of ransom payments before alternate methods of freeing hostages are developed.”