Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 8th September 2014.

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Photo of Greg Knight Greg Knight Conservative, East Yorkshire

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the threat to the safety of British seafarers and others from piracy (a) in the Gulf of Guinea and (b) elsewhere; and what his strategy is for reducing that threat.

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs

We take the threat to British seafarers seriously and keep the situation under review. The National Strategy for Maritime Security provides the strategic context for the UK’s work on maritime security. Piracy is one symptom of wider maritime insecurity and governance challenges that the UK is working to address.

Our assessment for the Gulf of Guinea is that the overall number of reported incidents of maritime crime has remained stable over the last ten years. However, 2013 saw an increase in the number of maritime kidnappings reported. Through the industry–led and UK-supported, Maritime Trade and Information Sharing Centre—Gulf of Guinea, based in Ghana, we are hoping to better understand the scale of the threat. The UK also works with international partners to support the regionally-owned 2013 Yaoundé Code of Conduct.

There are also piracy threats in the major maritime trade areas of the Horn of Africa and South East Asia. The piracy threat from Somalia has been suppressed although pirates retain the capacity to launch attacks. There remains a risk of resurgence if international efforts are stopped prematurely. We are committed to playing a leading role in the international naval operations still on-going in the region including through leading roles in EU and NATO naval forces. The UK also provides staff to EUCAP NESTOR, the EU-led regional maritime capacity building mission, and co-chairs the working group on capacity building of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. In South East Asia, the UK is a member of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against ships in Asia (ReCAAP). This group seeks to share information and enhance cooperation to combat the threat.

In addition to Government activity, the shipping industry routinely conducts threat assessments of areas in which they are operating. Shipping companies are able to undertake assessments based on information such as insurance company threat ratings and the Department for Transport counter-piracy advice.

The details of the challenges each region faces may be different, but the overriding requirement is to assist with the development of indigenous capability to provide a lasting solution.

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