By Barrie White
Manchester-based shipping companies are losing thousands of pounds due to piracy around the north-west coast of Africa.
Captain Jack Sparrow and buried treasure may be what many think of when asked about pirates however for many shipping companies this romantic image couldn’t be further from the truth.
One Manchester shipping company affected by Somali piracy is Cardinal Maritime.
Spokeswoman Julie McAlinden says the company is suffering from increased charges because of the pirates.
She said: “Shipping lines involved in these routes have increased their rates by means of piracy surcharges.
“Obviously sometimes the shipping lines will be profiteering from this. But, if a vessel is targeted by pirates it could cost them $50,000 per day whilst held.
“The piracy surcharge is passed onto our clients at costs. Therefore our margins are lowered and revenue rises but profitability remains the same”.
And now Altrincham-based PR Agency RMS has started a ‘Save Our Seafarers’ campaign to highlight the plight of many innocent seafarers suffering terrible conditions when kidnapped.
Somali piracy has been on the increase over the last five years with many pirates operating in the oceans and seas around Africa.
RMS Managing Director Ruth Shearn is clear on the need to do away with the romantic image of pirates or Johnny Depp and realise that pirates are deadly dangerous people.
She said: “Pirates are violent, unscrupulous and immoral individuals who kidnap, torture and sometimes kill their captives.”
RMS believes it has made an early impact in their campaign to highlight awareness of Somali piracy.
Shearn says the US Embassy contacted RMS to ask for its contact details to be removed after receiving thousands of messages.
She has also been in email contact with the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, trying to promote awareness of the awful problems suffered by kidnapped seafarers.
She added: “There’s a genuine fear of travel. Seafarers suffer psychological and physical abuse.”
Kidnapped victims are usually held on average for eight months before a ransom is paid or they are rescued.
RMS want to highlight that in that time, many ship crews are often assaulted, injured or killed by their captors.
In February this year, four American sailors were murdered by Somali pirates after a rescue attempt failed.
This is added to the eight who were killed in 2010, but RMS say that nearly all of the pirates captured are released without charge.
Piracy also has an effect on people’s day –to-day lives as 90% of the world’s supplies such as food and oil pass through these waters.
Follow and support the campaign at http://www.saveourseafarers.com/ or follow on Twitter @saveourseafarer