THE Regional Co-operation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia held a virtual dialogue on 30 July with representatives of shipping associations and companies based in Singapore and Malaysia.

Hosted by ReCAAP’s Information Sharing Centre, the dialogue comes on the back of almost two-fold increase in incidents of piracy and sea robbery from January to June 2020 compared with the same period in 2019.

The ReCAAP is the first regional government-to-government agreement to promote and enhance cooperation against piracy and armed robbery against ships in Asia. The agreement entered into force on 4 September 2006.

The Information Sharing Centre was established on 29 November 2006 with 14 Asian countries as contracting parties of the agreement. To date, 20 states (14 Asian countries, 4 European countries, Australia, and the USA) have become contracting parties to ReCAAP.

During the dialogue, ReCAAP ISC presented the Half-Yearly Report 2020 (January to June) during which a total of 51 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships (comprising 50 actual incidents and one attempted incident) were reported in Asia.

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Following the presentation, the participants had discussions on two main areas of concern; the increase of incidents in the Singapore Strait and the threat of abduction of crew in the Sulu-Celebes Seas and off Eastern Sabah. They exchanged their assessment of the situation and their views on how to address these incidents.

The participants of the shipping industry also provided views on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the industry, particularly safety measures against piracy and sea robbery incidents.

“As a provider of timely and accurate information, ReCAAP ISC is making efforts in understanding the challenges the shipping industry is facing—particularly in this unprecedented time of the COVID-19 pandemic—and incorporating their views  in our activities,” Masafumi Kuroki, executive director of ReCAAP ISC said.

“With regard to COVID-19, what we are hearing during the dialogue is that the pandemic has posed severe challenges to the shipping industry, particularly on the well-being of the seafarers.

“Despite these challenges, we ask the shipping industry to  continue to uphold vigilance and the enforcement agencies to enhance patrol and law enforcement particularly in the areas of concern.”

The organisations represented at the dialogue included the Asian Shipowners’ Association, the Baltic and International Maritime Council, the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners, the Sarawak & Sabah Shipowners’ Association, the Singapore Shipping Association, the Federation of ASEAN Shipowners’ Association, BP Shipping, NYK Ship Management, Thome Group, Teekay Tankers, and Anglo Eastern Ship Management.

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