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Tuesday, 01 December 2009

Atalanta chief on EU fight against pirates

"Operation Atalanta" is the codename for the EU anti-piracy campaign off the Somali coast, seeking to protect to vessels crossing these treacherous waters. It is no small task considering the size of the area the operation has to patrol. Operation Commander Rear-Admiral Peter Hudson of Britain's Royal Navy was in parliament this week to tell MEPs about the state of play and the main challenges the operation faces. The word pirates conjures up images of swashbuckling outlaws on the high seas, but the reality is far from romantic. Piracy nowadays involves a well-organised criminal network with carefully prepared attacks on merchant, humanitarian, fishing and leisure vessels in which crews are routinely held hostage, threatened and, in a few dramatic cases, executed. It is a lucrative trade for pirates, causing huge financial losses for shipping companies. EU anti-piracy escorts off Somalia have sunk ships, destroyed weapons, intercepted vessels and thwarted direct attacks. No escorted ship has been successfully attacked by pirates, but vessels should register before crossing the Gulf of Aden, EU Naval Force Commander Rear Admiral Peter D. Hudson told MEPs. MEPs called for more effective protection for European fishing vessels.

Source: European Parliament