How to manage global maritime security threats Spotlight on: The Gulf of Aden

Phil Cable, CEO of MAST
Security remains a critical issue in the Gulf of Aden. Despite the reduction of the BMP4 High Risk Area in the Western Indian Ocean, piracy has remained a threat in the region. However, it represents only one of the threats that face supply lines. Smuggling, terrorism and cyberterrorism, cargo theft and maritime kidnapping all pose substantial threats and are both facilitated and exacerbated by low level criminality and corruption in port towns and cities.
These potential dangers can be tackled, but progress demands consistent and strategic action on the part of countries and maritime industry leaders. Regulations against corruption and operations against criminal activity on the ground can greatly restrict the freedom of terrorists and criminals to operate out of coastal bases, whilst the sufficient policing of littoral waters by trained coastal guards can prove a powerful deterrent against pirates and other criminals. Properly enforcing the ISPS code, the generally poorly enforced common standard for tackling global criminality and terrorism since 2004, provides another avenue.
MAST has long advocated that the maritime community adopt a new culture of security, akin to that undertaken by the airline industry in recent years. The challenge is great, but we should take heart. After all, it was purposeful and constructive, industry-led action – BMP 4 and the introduction of armed guarding – that ultimately kept Somali piracy at bay, and thereby reduced shipping industry supply chain risk and kept seafarers safer in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.
Many of the issues facing ports and supply routes are intractable, but the objective of policymakers and industry leaders should be to manage and mitigate these risks through concerted unified effort on both land and sea. This will not be an easy task, but it is certainly one that is necessary to make our seas safer.
This is a summarised version of an article which was originally published by Arabian Business on 24 January 2016.       

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