Towards a single piracy reporting centre?

Concerns have been expressed by some within the international shipping community that procedures for the real time reporting of piratical attacks on shipping remain in need of rationalisation.

In response, on April 26, the Regional Co-operation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia Information Sharing Centre (ReCAAP ISC), and the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, held a joint Maritime Round Table in Singapore on the theme, “Is a single reporting centre the answer to timely reporting, and prompt response, against piracy and sea robbery?”

The function was attended by representatives of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), and wide range of officials from maritime regulatory and enforcement agencies.

Many people within, and outside, the shipping world are aware of the role in piracy reporting which has been played, for more than 20 years, by the International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

There is, though, a plethora of other facilities which also often receive reports of piracy. These include naval and coast guard command centres, ReCAAP ISC, the UK Maritime Component Command in Bahrain, and the Thailand Maritime Enforcement Coordinating Centre. IMO Maritime Safety Committee doctrine, meanwhile, requires victimised ships to report attacks to the relevant national Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre.

While no firm conclusions were reached at the round table, it was apparent that a need for such rationalisation has been identified, and that the proposal is gaining some momentum.

Any change is unlikely to be rapid, though. One round table delegate told Baird Maritime that national pride, and funding issues, are continuing to militate against support for a single worldwide dedicated reporting centre.