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BUNKER INDEX :: Price Index, News and Directory Information for the Marine Fuel Industry
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Somali pirates release bunkering tanker and crew

Pirates are said to have disembarked the ship following negotiations with officials and local elders.

Updated on 17 Mar 2017 06:50 GMT

A bunkering tanker that was seized earlier this week by pirates off Puntland, Somalia, has been released together with its crew without conditions, officials said on Thursday.

Abdirizak Mohamed Ahmed, director of Puntland's anti-piracy agency, told The Associated Press that the pirates had disembarked the 1800-dwt Aris 13 with its eight crew members on board following negotiations by local elders and officials with the pirates.

The pirates were not arrested but instead given passage to leave once they disembarked, Mohamed explained. Naval forces are then said to have boarded the vessel to escort it to port.

The bunker tanker had been carrying fuel from Djibouti to Mogadishu on Monday when it was approached by men in two skiffs and the tanker issued a call for help.

Mohamed said the pirates told authorities that the reason they seized the tanker was in protest against illegal fishing in the area. Pirates who previously quit to become fishermen as international patrols increased, have complained of growing harassment by illegal fishermen and attacks by large foreign trawlers.

Earlier this week, on Wednesday, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim urged the shipping industry to apply IMO guidance and best management practices to avert possible piracy attacks in the wake of the Aris 13 hijacking.

"While we have seen a very welcome decline in piracy off Somalia since the last reported hijack by Somali pirates in 2012, the reality is that piracy off the coast of Somalia has not been eradicated and the underlying conditions have not changed. Merchant shipping should continue to take protective measures against possible piracy attacks in the Gulf of Aden and the western Indian Ocean through diligent application of IMO guidance and best management practices," Lim said.

Data on incidents reported to IMO shows that the hijacking of the tanker Aris 13, on 13th March, is the first reported attack on a vessel covered by IMO regulations by Somali pirates since the tanker Smyrni in May 2012.

Since 2012, although piracy has been largely contained, Somali pirates have continued to attempt to hijack ships, but less frequently. The most recent reported attempted attack in the region was on the UK-flagged product tanker CPO Korea in October 2016. In that incident, the ship was reported safe after the attack failed.

IMO has advised ships transiting the high-risk area to register with the Maritime Security Centre - Horn of Africa (MSCHOA), report to the UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) office in Dubai, which acts as the primary point of contact for merchant vessels and liaison with military forces in the region, implement IMO guidance and Best Management Practices (BMP), and follow the Internationally Recommended Transit Corridor (IRTC).

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