The SHared Awareness and DEconfliction (SHADE) conference convened for its 32nd sitting in Manama, Bahrain on 4 June.
Hosted in Bahrain by the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), NATO and the European Naval Force (EUNAVFOR), the counter piracy conference brings together countries that have a shipping interest in the Gulf of Aden, off the Horn of Africa and in the western Indian Ocean. In all, 140 delegates from 32 nations attended representing law enforcement agencies, the shipping industry, other government departments, the military and the fishing industry.
SHADE meets four times a year, bringing countries together to raise awareness of their individual activities in the region, and to ensure navies from all the states with an interest coordinate their activity towards providing a secure environment for one of the world’s busiest shipping areas.
Commander Stuart Barrand of the EUNAVFOR, which operates in the Indian Ocean off Somalia, said: “This is a great opportunity for like-minded nations, who face the same risks while sailing in the seas of the Gulf and the Indian Ocean to share knowledge and experiences. It is one of the few opportunities that such a wide range of seafaring nations have the opportunity to meet.”
Delegates were given briefings on the shipping industry, piracy trends by CMF and on the fisheries off Somalia.
There was a continuing theme at the conference about piracy. With no incidents reported since May 2012, it was reported by Commander Barry Doig, Royal Navy, that suspect pirate activity for the second quarter of 2014 was lower than for the same period last year.
This was supported by Capt Rahat Awan of the Pakistan Navy who said. “Piracy has been suppressed but not eliminated”.
Guest speaker Stephen Akester, Fisheries advisor to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Somalia said. “It was wonderful to see so many nations working together to prevent piracy. Cooperation at this level is good to see.”
Mr Akester addressed the conference on the impact that piracy had made on the Somalian fishing industry. In the more stable maritime environment off the Somalian coast he highlighted the FAO’s plans to help revive the countries fishing industry by introducing new, safer fishing boats, to registered fisherman and introduce Fish Aggregation, a system that attracts fish to a net attached to a buoy. This method of fishing takes away the need for trawling as the fish will always gather at the fixed point.
Captain Jacques Riviere, French Navy, said after the conference. “SHADE has become a beacon of success for the spirit of international cooperation in the anti-piracy environment.”