Attendees at the latest SHADE Conference in Bahrain

The latest Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE) conference took place in Bahrain at an opportune time with the International Mine Counter Measures Exercise 16 (IMCMEX16) as the background to the discussions, and as a reminder of the global importance of the maritime environment.

Primarily centered on the fight against piracy, the conference involved 120 representatives from a variety of nations, organisations, industry and military.  The conference is chaired on a rotational basis between the European Union Naval Forces (EUNAVFOR) who maintain Operation Atalanta, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), who are responsible for  the Ocean Shield mission and the hosts for this conference, Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) who operate the Combined Task Force (CTF) 151, the lead anti-piracy Task Force within CMF.

The conference featured a number of speakers and presentations.  These included from the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Organisation (UKMTO), both Commander Royal Navy Peter Harriman whose role is the Officer in Charge and Mr Simon Church from the Maritime Security Centre – Horn of Africa.  They spoke of the pattern of life and impact of reducing the high risk area.

Mr John Stawpert, Manager of the International Chamber of Shipping Ltd, provided an update on the industry and its success in countering piracy.  He stated the importance of the military, armed guards on board ships and the use of Best Management Practises 4 – Protection Against Somali Based Piracy.  Mr Andy Read from the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organisation spoke on the illegal, unlicensed and unregulated fishing.

Also speaking from the UN was Mr Alan Cole of the Office of Drugs and Crime who identified that many pirates currently in prison intend to return to piracy when released.  CTF152 provided a Yemen and threat update and Dr Ahmend Dahir the FGS presented on the continued problems in Somalia resulting from charcoal smuggling.

Alongside of the formal presentations, the conference also allowed the opportunity for further engagement and discussion.  Discussion identified that there is continued interest in India joining CMF and that the future visit of the Indian Navy’s Director Western Fleet to CMF will assist in this.  A further meeting concerning the smuggling of charcoal proved productive in how to move forward and tackle the problem. This meeting involved the Federal Government of Somalia and India as well as the UNODC and CMF.  In looking to the future, the Independent Deployers comprising Russia, India and China were approached with a view to increasing their future participation.

The next SHADE conference will allow the opportunity for further work and, as important, the additional opportunities to build further on the work of this successful meeting.