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PIRACY remains firmly at the top of the agenda for the industry this year, and statistics make for grim reading. According to IMO secretary general Efthimios Mitropoulos, who spoke at the Propeller Club this month, on January 1st 2010 there were 12 ships and 299 crew members held hostage, while on January 1 2011 there were 28 ships and 656 crew members. What more is necessary to address this problem will be the subject for debate when the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon comes to London next month to discuss how to tackle the issue.

With numbers held hostage more than doubling this year, sorting out the piracy issue remains a medium to long term issue which depends on a strong central government in Somalia. Other issues involve establishing the necessary legal system in neighbouring countries to try pirates that have been apprehended, the secretary general said.

The question remains whether the industry is doing as much as it could to counteract the scourge. We have yet to see the big industry associations take a firm stand beyond the talk.

January 2011 has however seen a little testosterone burned off to some effect, with a few news reports telling us off attacks repelled by armed guards and, as we write, only yesterday eight pirates killed and others arrested by South Korean commandoes who stormed the chemical tanker Samho Jewelry.

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