Seychelles Presidency of UN Contact Group on Somali Piracy is a positive step

MAST welcomes the news that the Seychelles will be assuming the Presidency of the UN Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. (CGPCS)
For the full Seychelles News Agency report:
Click here
Gerry Northwood is COO of MAST, the leading maritime security company, and a former Royal Navy officer experienced in counter-piracy and counter-terrorism operations.
Much to the credit of the Seychelles Government during the early days of Somali piracy in 2008 and 2009, they were quick to realise that piracy in the Indian Ocean represented a significant threat to the physical and economic security of the Seychelles archipelago.
At one point there was a very real threat that the Somalis would be able to operate with impunity in and around the Seychelles island chain, thus potentially threatening tourists on beaches and yachts transiting between islands. The Somalis had demonstrated that through the use of mother vessels, they had the reach to directly threaten outlying islands, and commercial vessels were captured from within the Seychelles Exclusive Economic Zone.
In seeking to mitigate the threat to their people and economy, the Seychelles Government quickly recognised that to do so they would need to take a broader, strategic view of Indian Ocean security. In other words, the Somali piracy problem was not just about them. Relatively simple measures could, and would, be put in place to provide a surveillance and interdiction capability around the Seychelles that would prevent Somali pirates operating inside their territorial waters.
But to their credit, the Seychelles Government took political risk at home to set an example of leadership in the region through establishing a programme where Somali pirates would be detained, placed on trial and imprisoned in the Seychelles. This required a close relationship and partnership with EUNAVFOR and UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), among others. This included for example, the secondment of UK Crown Prosecution Service lawyers to assist them with making the case for the prosecution.
That the Seychelles have now taken on the Presidency of the CGPCS is affirmation that responsibility for solving the problem of Somali piracy and maritime security in the Indian Ocean is being progressively shifted into the Indian Ocean region. It is very much to the credit of the government and people of Seychelles that they have set aside the quite natural instinct to simply protect their own narrow interests and have instead reached out to be part of a wider political and economic tapestry. Thus taking a position that sees them setting an example to other nations in the region that the solution to security problems needn’t be a zero sum game.
As an experienced security operator in the Seychelles and Indian Ocean, MAST recently made the following comment on the improved state of Seychelles maritime security which was  reported in Boat International magazine.
“We would advise that yachts continue to take armed guards when routing in and out of the Seychelles archipelago.  This advice applies when approaching from the Mozambique channel, from East Africa or from the north. Yachts approaching the Seychelles from the east and therefore not venturing into the Somali basin need not take security.
For the full report in Boat International click here
Inside the Seychelles archipelago Super Yachts need not take armed guards, though we would advocate they embark security advisors who understand the maritime domain. They can advise the Master and assist him in maintaining situational awareness and building an appreciation of pattern of local behaviour as the vessel moves around the islands”.  

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