Safety & Security

Fighting piracy with Captain Phillips

13 February 2014
Tom Hanks stars in Columbia Pictures' "Captain Phillips." Photo: Sony Pictures

US film Captain Phillips, on the April 2009 hijacking of container ship Maersk Alabama, was shown in Mauritius on Monday evening to highlight the continuing threat that Somali piracy poses to shipping in the Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) showed the film to the Mauritian foreign minister Arvin Boolell, EU representatives, senior police and coast guard personnel and IOC staff. In a statement, the IOC said: "The danger is real and present for fishing vessels, yachts and container ships… Piracy creates significant insecurity for populations, the maritime sector and tourism in our region." Government ministers and security experts in the region have repeatedly told IHS Maritime that it is vital to maintain vigilance and a strong naval deterrent in the Gulf of Aden and the Somali Basin. At a recent event marking the sixth anniversary of the Regional Maritime Security Programme (MASE), Seychelles' home affairs minister, Joël Morgan, said: "All partners in the battle should not forget the threats and risks that still exist. Seychelles will continue to contribute its share, while we recognise that no state can do it alone." Seychelles hosts both the IOC's Anti-Piracy Cell and the Regional Anti-Piracy Prosecutions Intelligence Coordination Centre, which tracks the funders and financial beneficiaries of maritime crime. MASE is a joint initiative of the EU, IOC and UN Office on Drugs and Crime. In November it received €5M ($6.8M) from the European Development Fund for capacity-building in the region focused on gathering evidence and prosecuting piracy suspects.

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