Cheers for Chilean Miners, But Few Concerns for Maritime Hostages

Last week, a maritime industry conference in Cyprus had a shipping industry representative bemoaning the fact that while the world over, there was plenty of support and joy over the rescue of the Chilean miners, there was little concern for the hundreds of seamen who continue to remain hostages of pirates across the globe. According to Roberto Giorgi, president of InterManager and V. Ships, he found during his travels around the world, that there was much attention paid to the plight of the Chilean miners who had been trapped underground for months before being rescued. However, there was little awareness of the fact that there continue to be hundreds of ship crewmembers in pirate custody. Beit custody. While there are plenty of organizations that claim to work for the rights of seafarers, they have been able to do very little to present a cohesive front, and place pressure on the international community to tackle piracy. For instance, in spite of the fact that international maritime authorities have laid out best practices to tackle piracy, many sections of the shipping industry worldwide fail to follow these measures. For instance, many vessel operators fail to offer shipboard security, exposing the vessel and the crewmembers to the risk of an attack. As a maritime attorney, I agree with much of what Giorgi says. There's a tendency on the part of the international community to take the maritime industry and the safety of seaman, for granted. Piracy is being treated as something that the shipping industry must learn to live with, and that attitude needs to change.

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