x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Boats under radar at risk

Unregistered dhows sailing between Somalia and India, unwilling or unable to report their whereabouts, 'are hampering counter-piracy efforts'.

DUBAI // Unregistered dhows and fishing boats sailing the waters between Somalia and India, unwilling or unable to report their whereabouts, are hampering counter-piracy efforts.

And the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) says the crews of these smaller vessels are putting themselves in danger.

Dhows and fishing boats can be mistaken for hostile ships, says Cdr James Cohen, the UKMTO officer in charge.

Pirates often travel on hijacked dhow "mother ships", then unload and board speedy skiffs to chase a target.

Larger ships, lacking a registry to check if the boats they meet at sea are legitimate, have fired on innocent boats out of suspicion.

Most such incidents go unreported and the number of deaths is unknown, says Cdr Cohen.

But registering these boats would be impractical. Many cannot afford satellite phones or other means of communication. Others may be involved in activities that they do not want monitored.

The UKMTO is teaching operators of mid-sized vessels such as dhows how to avoid confrontations with larger vessels.

chuang@thenational.ae