KINGSTON — The Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI) will be drawing national attention to the problem of piracy within the shipping industry during Maritime Awareness Week from September 26 to 29.
The move is in keeping with the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) focus on the issue for World Maritime Day 2011 to be observed across the globe on September 29 under the theme: ‘Piracy: Orchestrating the Response’.
Speaking at a ‘Think Tank’ held on Friday September 23 at the Jamaica Information Service’s (JIS) Half-Way-Tree Road headquarters, Executive Director of the CMI, Fritz Pinnock, said that piracy is one of the major challenges facing the maritime industry.
He informed that the world piracy population is around two million. “Right now, the piracy capital surrounds that little section in Eastern Africa, where Somalia is actually known as the pirate capital of the world. So this is not something that is farfetched,” he stated.
Mr. Pinnock said that students at the CMI are trained to deal with any incidents that may occur while working in the shipping industry, including piracy.
Secretary-General, IMO, Efthimios E. Mitropoulos, in launching the World Maritime Day theme on February 3, said that the organisation has been dealing with piracy for some 30 years.
“Piracy and kidnapping have blighted the maritime community for too long and it is seafarers, who bear the brunt,” he stated.
He informed that in the past 12 months alone, there have been 286 piracy-related incidents off the coast of Somalia, which have resulted in 67 hijacked ships, with 1,130 seafarers on board. He noted that the time, that 714 seafarers were being held for ransom on board 30 ships scattered at various points of the country’s extensive coastline.
Mr. Mitropoulos stated that piracy is an unlawful act, which, further to the trauma it causes seafarers and their families, is estimated, in accordance with a recent study reported by Chatham House, to cost the world economy between US$7 billion and US$12 billion, as a result of the disruption to shipping services and international trade.
Mr. Pinnock, in the meantime, said the institute continues to produce world-class graduates, who are ready for the world of work.
“We have a service-based economy and what the market is asking for is to give me an engineer, who can fix all the problems I have, whether it is my elevator, sewage system, air conditioning system, they want one engineer, who can carry out that function. This is what we produce at the CMI,” he stated.
He said that so highly skilled and multi faceted are the graduates of the institute that their services are being demanded by industries outside of shipping.
He noted for example, that it is difficult to retain the marine engineers as they are being absorbed into the power and telecommunications companies.
Deputy Executive Director at the CMI, Vivette Grant, informed that Maritime Awareness Week will also highlight the many interesting aspects of the shipping industry, the various careers that are available for young people, and the important work of the Maritime Authority of Jamaica.
She is encouraging students to visit the CMI’s headquarters at Norman Manley Highway, Palisadoes Park,to participate in the various activities, which include simulated exercises done by cadets, guided tours and video presentations.
“The Port Authority of Jamaica will be partnering with us and we will have a ferry conducting and giving tours of the Kingston Harbour,” Mrs. Grant informed.
She said that a luncheon will be held on World Maritime Day at the Terra Nova Hotel where the Minister of Transport and Works, Hon. Michael Henry will be the guest speaker.
The CMI is committed to producing industry ready graduates, law abiding and disciplined leaders, and promoting good work ethics and best practises in the maritime and logistics sectors.
By Latonya Linton, JIS Reporter