The decision by the National Transport Authority (NTA) to introduce new safety measures for all UAE commercial ships to guard against pirates is a step in the right direction. Commercial vessels carrying cargoes of more than 300 tonnes, flying the UAE flag and registered with the NTA will now be fitted with tracking devices and be provided with protection on board in regional and international waters.
Piracy off the coast of Somalia has become a recurring headache, costing billions of dollars in annual losses. Repeated efforts to tackle the menace have failed. With their land torn apart by war and ravaged by famine, for many Somali men, taking to the seas with a Kalashnikov offers an irresistible opportunity to make quick financial gains. The problem originated with shipping trawlers, many from the Far East, taking advantage of the fact that Somalia was unable to guard its coastline. They engaged in illegal fishing, which decimated fish stocks, leading some men to attack these trawlers. That pretext, of course, rings hollow now.
Piracy is a crime, and needs to be tackled robustly.