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We had our doubts – and we still do – when the global e-petition demanding concrete action from governments to end the piracy problem was launched on 20th May. Even so, we welcome the news that four more organisations have announced their support for the project. The ASF (Asian Shipowners’ Forum), ECSA (European Community Shipowners’ Associations), ICMA (International Christian Maritime Association) and ICSW (International Committee for Seafarers’ Welfare) are now also promoting the initiative to their members and beyond.

The addition of such influential voices to the chorus is timely; perchance, it will see the e-petition shifting into high gear and catching a bit more attention than it is now. As of 24th June, it is reported that more than 53,000 people have signed the online petition. The figure is still a long way off from the half a million signatures which the proponents hope to gather by 23rd September, IMO World Maritime Day, when the e-petition is to be presented to governments around the world.

We find this somewhat surprising. The e-petition has not only been widely publicised in the Internet, but the scourge of piracy itself continues to hog the limelight in both cyberspace and the mainstream media. The number of signatures collected thus far is not even 5% of the estimated 1.5 million seafarers worldwide. Shouldn’t there be more seafarers signing the e-petition considering that many of them have been kidnapped, injured or even killed in Somali piracy attacks? And how about the people directly employed by the shipping companies and other entities belonging to the sponsoring organisations?

In the final analysis, the whole initiative will not only be a litmus test of how much importance is placed by individual governments on the piracy issue and the extent to which they are willing to act to end the problem. It will be a test as well of the political clout  and public relations savvy of the various organisations collecting the signatures. ~Barista Uno

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