By G Saravanan
Published in The New Indian Express, Chennai on March 10, 2012:
CHENNAI: The sixth governing council (GC) meeting of the Singapore-based anti-piracy forum has expressed serious concern over the worsening piracy situation in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia.In a meeting organised by the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) in Singapore for three days (March 6-8), the GC expressed its highest concern about the fate of ships and their crew members, who are still under captivity of the Somali pirates.According to a statement released at the end of the meeting, the GC commended the concrete efforts of the ReCAAP Information Sharing Centre, under its cooperative agreement with the International Maritime Organization (IMO), in the implementation of the Djibouti Code of Conduct (DCoC) through sharing of its experiences and expertise as part of the wider efforts of the international community to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia.The ReCAAP is the first regional government-to-government agreement to promote and enhance cooperation against piracy and armed robbery in Asia. It was finalised on November 11, 2004, and entered into force on September 4, 2006. To date, 17 countries have become contracting parties (members) to ReCAAP to combat piracy jointly.Besides India, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Denmark, Japan, South Korea, Laos, Myanmar, the Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam are the members of the international forum.With the UK expressing its desire to join the international anti-piracy forum, that country would become the 18th member of the ReCAAP from May this year.Besides, two invited countries (Malaysia and Australia), representatives of European Commission (EC), International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), Information Fusion Centre (IFC), Asian Shipowners’ Forum (ASF), Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO), International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (INTERCARGO), International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO), International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and Federation of ASEAN Shipowners’ Association (FASA)/Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) attended the all important annual meeting.