Saturday, January 14, 2012
MANILA — Newly-appointed International Maritime Organization (IMO) General Secretary Koji Sekimizu vowed to reduce piracy cases worldwide so that the world's 1.2 million strong force of seafarers, including 400,000 Filipinos, can go about their business in the high seas without fear of being attacked by pirates.
Sekimizu, who started his four-year term last Jan. 1, said that he had appointed an able official to tackle this issue.
“Anti-piracy measures will receive a boost with the appointment of Harmut Hesse as special representative of the Secretary-General for Maritime Security and Anti-Piracy Programs," the IMO chief said.
“He (Hesse) will have responsibility for the implementation of the Djibouti Code of Conduct and will also act as the IMO representative to conferences and meetings dealing with piracy issues,” Sekimizu said.
Earlier, the IMO announced that piracy attacks worldwide were beginning to go down to its naval partners.
"Recent statistics show that the number of ships and seafarers held captive by Somali pirates have reduced from a peak of 33 and 733 in February 2011 to 13 and 265 respectively at the beginning of December 2011. The number of reported attacks has also declined from a high of 45 per month in January 2011 to 14 for the month of November 2011; and the proportion of successful attacks has been cut from 20 per cent in January 2011 to just seven per cent in November 2011," the maritime body said.
The IMO points to the spread of best management practice guidance and increased awareness by crews of how to access naval protection and implement the recommended evasive and defensive measures, as well as the use of onboard armed security teams and the continuing naval patrol presence, as factors in the reduction of successful Somali pirate attacks in 2011.
As this develops, Sekimizu announced a number of changes in the structure of IMO Secretariat “to improve delivery mechanism”.
The changes include the appointment of IMO Assistant Secretary-General Andrew Winbow as the new director of Maritime Safety. Winbow was with the IMO's Administrative Division prior to his new post.
While Jo-Espinosa-Ferrey of the Marine Environment Division has been named head of the Administrative Division as its new director, while Stefan Micallef now takes over as the new Marine Environment director.
Sekimizu has succeeded Efthimios E. Mitropoulos who ended his tour of duty as IMO Secretary-General last Dec. 31, 2011, at the expiration of his second four-year term. (PNA)