x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Chiefs of 32 navies agree that co-operation is way to make Indian Ocean safer

Conference hears that countries concerned in protecting trade and crude oil transporting need to better work together to combat piracy and human trafficking on the seas

ABU DHABI // Tighter co-operation between nations in the Indian Ocean is the only way to curb maritime crime, naval chiefs said yesterday as they concluded the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (Ions). "The countries concerned in protecting trade and crude transporting need to better work together to combat piracy and human trafficking and other illegal activities in the seas," said Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu, the head of the South African navy, as he gave the closing remarks at the convention.

Representatives of 32 navies met for three days in the capital, discussing strategies to tackle maritime issues in the region. Throughout the symposium, the need for better sharing of information was stressed. Some delegates advocated a multinational security fleet for the vast area of sea that stretches from eastern Africa to Indonesia and Australia. Several visions for better co-operation were put forward. They were discussed in a closed-door meeting yesterday.

Admiral Arun Prakash, a former head of the Indian navy, suggested a "regional maritime concord" in which Ions members would agree to pledge ships, support and logistics for a multinational force. Vice Admiral Bill Gortney, the commander of the United States' Fifth Fleet, called for a "global maritime partnership". On Tuesday, Admiral Bruno Branciforte, the chief of the Italian navy, suggested the creation of a "federation" of regional maritime security fleets.

He said any kind of global anti-piracy force, however, would be "impossible" because of political differences. Ions began as an initiative of the Indian navy in 2008. It aims to help navies formulate closer partnerships to fight an increasing number of threats at sea, including piracy, drug smuggling, human trafficking, illegal fishing and dumping. @Email:lmorris@thenational.ae