Iran Slams Moves Upsetting Maritime Security after Red Sea Tanker Explosion

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh denounced any threat to maritime security after the recent explosion of an oil tanker in the Red Sea.

Asked about the recent explosion and fire in an oil tanker in the Red Sea, Khatibzadeh said on Wednesday, “The Islamic Republic of Iran rejects any provocation and destructive action harming maritime security and safety and freedom of international trade.”

He also reaffirmed Iran’s constant stance on maintaining regional stability and security, expressing hope that the countries in the region would step up efforts to strengthen cooperation to ensure maritime security, fight against pirates, and combat the trade of illicit materials in order to achieve sustainable regional security.

His comments came after an explosion struck a Singapore-flagged oil tanker off Saudi Arabia’s port city of Jeddah on the Red Sea on Monday morning.

Saudi authorities said the fuel transport ship was attacked by an explosive-laden boat. No casualties or injuries has been reported among the 22 sailors on board.

The blast comes after a number of security incidents concerning Saudi oil infrastructure.

Source: tasnimnews.com

Explosion Strikes Tanker Off Jeddah

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Shipping company Hafnia said on Monday that one of its oil tankers had been hit by an unidentified external source that caused fire and explosion while the ship was discharging at Jeddah port in Saudi Arabia.

“BW Rhine has been hit from an external source whilst discharging at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia at approximately 00:40 local time on 14 December 2020, causing an explosion and subsequent fire onboard,” Hafnia said in a statement on its website, Reuters reported.

The crew has put out the fire and no one was injured, the company said.

The cause of the blast is not yet known, but according to maritime security consultancy Dryad Global it may have been a limpet mine attack.

Source: tasnimnews.com

Mozambique LNG security in spotlight again as insurgency creeps closer

Author: Stuart Elliott

London — Militants have attacked a village in northern Mozambique just 20 km from the site of two major LNG project developments, according to local media reports, highlighting the continued security issues facing the southeast African country and its fledgling LNG industry.

More than 30 million mt/year of LNG production capacity is under development in Mozambique as the country looks to join the ranks of the world’s biggest LNG exporters.

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Source: spglobal.com

Arab Coalition destroys two Houthi explosive-laden boats

File image of suspected Houthi SVBIED (boat bomb), via http://crfimmadagascar.org

RIYADH — The Arab Coalition said late Wednesday its forces intercepted and destroyed two bomb-laden boats belonging to Iran-backed Houthi militia.

In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency early Thursday, the coalition spokesman Brig. Gen. Turki Al-Maliki said that the armed boats targeted maritime routes south of the Red Sea.

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Source: saudigazette.com.sa

Fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

A decade of pushing investigations beyond invisible borders to disrupt the criminal networks behind fisheries crime.

Money laundering, labour exploitation, corruption and forgery are a small sample of serious crimes commonly committed during illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing today.

Unlike a decade ago, it is not just fishing vessel captains and owners who are responsible for present-day fisheries crime. It is largely down to business executives, public officials, lawyers, accountants and other white-collar professionals.

One kilo of Totoaba fish bladder is worth more than 1kg of cocaine on illegal Asian markets – a low risk high rewards alternative fetching up to USD 50,000 per bladder

These executive criminals create shell companies in offshore financial havens.  They conspire with accountants to launder money, nurture corrupt relationships with government officials, falsify regulatory documents, and consistently resort to forced labour on their ships.

INTERPOL established a dedicated Environmental Security Programme (ENS) in 2010.  This week, to celebrate the programme’s first decade of action, we focus on how INTERPOL has enabled countries in all parts of the world to tackle the wide range of serious crimes associated with the fisheries sector.

Fishing vessels are often also used to smuggle people, drugs and firearms, as well as to carry out piracy or terrorist attacks.

Tackling fisheries crime: ten years in ten feats

1. Greater police awareness: A decade of ENS action has helped the world’s police community to recognize the real threat of fisheries crime to national security and public health. Heightened cooperation and mentoring between developed and developing countries has improved global law enforcement’s capacity to detect  serious fisheries crime groups and put their members behind bars;
2. Stronger operational capacity: ten years of coordinating global law enforcement operations has helped countries to trace rogue vessels across maritime borders, collect intelligence, identify trends and risk indicators and triggered intelligence led investigations worldwide;
3. All-inclusive investigations: INTERPOL has worked with countries to identify and dismantle criminal networks associated with the fisheries industry, tackling entire networks, not just individual poachers.  For the past decade ENS has coordinated complex fisheries crime investigations across multiple maritime jurisdictions resulting in the detection of hundreds of cases of illegal harvest, processing and transportation of fish, triggering further investigations and asset recovery efforts worldwide. Investigative Support Teams (ISTs) are sent in to the field regularly to assist countries with INTERPOL expertise and police capabilities, resulting in a decade of detentions, convictions and penalties worldwide;

Did you know a 6-week illegal fishing trip to Antarctica can make up to six million euros in profit?

4. INTERPOL Notices: publication of a wide range of colour-coded INTERPOL Notices on fishing vessels and associated suspects, alerting countries to poaching, smuggling, illegal trade, food fraud, customs fraud, and public health issues as well as human trafficking in the fisheries sector and abuse of flag state registries;
5. Global police cooperation: Using INTERPOL’s secure global police communications network called I-24/7, police forces today fight fisheries crime together, beyond maritime borders, monitoring the global crime landscape for early threat detection, and conducting financial investigations to follow the money which drives organized crime in the fisheries sector;
6. Crime convergence: a decade of detecting links between fisheries crime and other serious organized crime, particularly fraud, corruption, tax evasion, forged documents and money laundering.  Although not so common a decade ago, human trafficking and labour exploitation are key pillars sustaining contemporary fisheries crime. With the victims, perpetrators and vessels originating from a wide range of different countries, only a global police organization can provide the kind of support needed to coordinate action at international level.
7. Addressing emerging trends: INTERPOL has spent the past decade working closely with fisheries investigators across the globe, sharing ideas, techniques and information on identifying and verifying patterns in fishing industry and associated crimes, particularly as it relates to the detection of and action against forced labour.  Crew members are often kidnapped, sold or coerced to leave their home countries to work as cheap manpower for the industry, suffering  food and water deprivation, torture, beatings and 20-22-hour days in brutal working conditions.  Some victims are trapped on ships for years on end with no means of escape. INTERPOL has created operational groups and information sharing mechanisms over the past ten years to boost cross border and multi-agency cooperation in addressing this.

8. Publications: Regular publication of globally recognized law enforcement manuals, such as INTERPOL’s Guide for Law Enforcement Practitioners used today by law enforcement across the world to tackle illegal fishing comprehensively. The last ten years has also seen the publication of operational and intelligence analysis reports on fisheries crime, including protected species, social media analysis, illegal fishing activities and port calls;
9. Capacity development: Regular capacity building events including mentoring have boosted global law enforcement skillsets in detecting, preventing and disrupting organized fisheries crime. We conduct extensive capacity building activities for our member countries to improve their effectiveness holistically, with regional and national level training events in all continents, which have led to more successful environmental crime investigations and prosecutions.
10. Improved recognition and credibility: INTERPOL has received medals of honour, awards and grants in recognition of its unique global efforts to permit countries in all continents to fight fisheries crime effectively.

10 years of impact illustrated in one landmark case: FV STS-50

This case – one of many similar cases carried out by ENS over the past decade – highlights the challenges of tackling fisheries crime and the unique role of INTERPOL in providing a coordinated international response.

Acting on a request from INTERPOL, Indonesia seized one of the world’s most wanted pirate fishing vessel in 2018 after it evaded capture in many countries.  Called “ANDREY DOLGOV”, “STS-50”, “SEA BREEZ 1” and many other names over the preceding decade, the ship was suspected of transnational fisheries-related crime including illegal fishing, document fraud, manipulation of shipborne equipment, illegal open-sea transshipments and serious identity fraud.

The vessel was a master of disguise. It changed its name six times, flew the flag of as many nations and disguised its electronic identification systems to confuse pursuers. For years it illegally fished across three oceans, misreporting the type of fish being offloaded to avoid sanctions, using forged documents to deceive authorities, retreating to the relative safety of international waters whenever the risk of capture was high. It is believed to have pilfered a total USD 50 million worth of fish from the ocean in a decade.

After a tip-off was received from New Zealand, INTERPOL issued a Purple Notice against the vessel for IUU fishing. Purple Notices are an important tool for fisheries enforcement as they allow police worldwide to share information about vessels known or suspected of engaging in illegal fishing activities.

ENS coordinated the exchange of intelligence between countries along the vessels’ travel route as it attempted to evade detention traveling from East Asia to Africa and back to Southeast Asia. After countless hours coordinating cooperation between dozens of collaborators across several nations (fishers, port authorities, government officials, and marine crime agencies), ENS was eventually able to alert Indonesian authorities on the exact moment the vessel entered its waters, leading to its immediate capture by the Indonesian Navy.

ENS coordinated global investigations, enabling countries from across the world to meet and discuss the evidence, prosecution and associated investigations. Findings triggered financial investigations which ultimately connected the ship to organized crime in Europe. It was clear that the majority of crew members were victims of labour exploitation.
ENS examined the evidence and intelligence collected on the fishing vessel—on-board computer systems, navigational instruments, and the captain’s mobile phone—enabling the global law enforcement community to piece together the wider criminal web that the vessel operated in.

ENS also helped law enforcement agencies in a number of countries to track down the criminals who operated the FV ”STS-50”, counterfeited its documents and had helped to launder its catches and the money it made.

Read : The hunt for the fish pirates who exploit the sea (BBC)

A decade of precious partnerships

INTERPOL recognizes the importance of strong partnerships in developing a coordinated response to fisheries crime.  Our activities against fisheries crime are all externally funded and dependent on sustainable partnerships.

INTERPOL works in close collaboration with governmental, non-governmental and international organizations to disrupt transnational organized criminal groups involved in environmental crime. These partners also help us to provide our member countries with technical and logistical support.

We would particularly like to acknowledge the valuable support from our Fisheries Crime Working Group (FCWG)  and our partners and encourage other national, regional and international stakeholders and the wider international donor community to support our vital work to stop organized crime affecting our environment.

Source: interpol.int

US Navy/Combined Maritime Forces in drugs seizure

Maritime Interdiction in North Arabian Sea, 4 December 2020

The guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114), deployed to U.S. Fifth Fleet and operating in support of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), interdicted a shipment of more than 2,000lbs (900kgs) of suspected narcotics from a vessel in the international waters of the Arabian Sea, Dec. 4.

This seizure, conducted in direct support of CMF’s Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, marks the fourth CMF drugs seizure since October. The narcotics are currently in U.S. custody awaiting analysis. To mitigate the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19, the boarding team undertook carefully executed precautionary measures during and after the boarding, to include decontamination of all seized contraband.

Ralph Johnson initially identified a dhow loitering without power in international waters. The ship approached to determine if the dhow required assistance, and a subsequent search discovered the narcotics.

CMF is a multinational maritime partnership which exists to counter illicit non-state actors in international waters, promoting security, stability and prosperity in the Arabian Gulf, the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, Indian Ocean and Gulf of Oman. CTF 150 conducts maritime security operations outside the Arabian Gulf to disrupt criminal and terrorist organisations, ensuring legitimate commercial shipping can transit the region, free from non-state threats. CTF 150 is currently led by the Royal Saudi Naval Force, the second time the country’s Navy has led the task force.

Source: combinedmaritimeforces.com

(ICYMI) Coalition destroys Houthi-laid marine mines in southern Red Sea

Original article posted on Nov. 27th.

DUBAI: The Saudi-led Arab coalition in Yemen said it destroyed two mines laid by Houthis in the south of the Red Sea, state television Al Ekhbariya reported on Friday.

The actions of the Houthi militia, according to the coalition, threatened maritime security in Bab Al-Mandab and the southern Red Rea. The coalition said a total of 166 marine mines were removed and destroyed.

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Source: arabnews.com

Ruling delayed in Seychelles top court on whether case should be dismissed against 5 suspected Somali pirates

Only three out of the five Somali suspects appeared in court on Monday while the other two are receiving medical assistance. (Rassin Vannier)

By: Salifa Karapetyan Edited by: Betymie Bonnelame

(Seychelles News Agency) – Five Somali nationals suspected of piracy will be held an additional 14 days and reappear before the Seychelles Supreme Court on December 10 for a decision on whether the case should be dismissed.

Justice Gustave Dodin was supposed to give a ruling on Friday but according to the lawyer representing the Somalis, Joel Camille, “the judge has asked for some more time so that he can conclude the ruling.”

“When the prosecution had called all its witnesses, we submitted a ‘no case to answer’, which means that we told the court that the prosecution does not have enough evidence against the Somali nationals so the charges should be dismissed and they should be released,” said Camille.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the EU NAVFOR Somalia Operation Atalanta transferred the five suspects to Seychellois authorities after responding to piracy attacks on April 21 last year.

The suspects were transported by Spanish flagship ESPS Navarra and transferred to Seychellois authorities in accordance with a transfer agreement between the Seychelles and the European Union with support from UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The incident began on April 19, 2019 when five suspected pirates captured a Yemeni dhow off the coast of Somalia. Two days later the pirates attacked the Korean fishing vessel Adria with the dhow acting as a mothership in the Indian Ocean some 280 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia.

The case which started on September 9 was to be heard for a month but due to restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, witnesses form Spain were unable to physically appear in court to give their evidence; the process was carried out via videolink. Seychellois witnesses from the police force physically appeared before the court to give their evidence.

To ensure that the legal process is fair, a representative of the UNODC has been present during the case hearings. Her duty was also to look after the welfare of the accused.

Camille said that the ruling might have been pushed to a later date due to an increase in workload as the year is coming to an end.

“Judge Dodin gave us a guarantee that on December 10 he will give his ruling. I feel that the court will rule in my favour as I am still convinced that the evidence presented were not enough against the Somali national and the court will dismiss the case against them,” said Camille.

Seychelles is east of the Somali coast and has placed itself at the forefront of the fight against piracy since 2005 when the scourge began expanding, adversely impacting the nation’s tourism and fishing industries, the top pillars of its economy. The island nation in the western Indian Ocean has since then been working with international partners to apprehend and prosecute suspected Somali pirates.

Somaliland and Seychelles signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the transfer of sentenced pirates in 2011. With special jurisdiction to handle piracy and maritime crime cases, Seychelles started hearing cases in June 2015.

Source: seychellesnewsagency.com

Maritime surveillance network to safeguard Indian waters

Shirish Nadkarni

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and French agency CNES (National Centre for Space Studies) have forged an alliance to set up a network of satellites for maritime surveillance to help detect, identify and track ships in the Indian Ocean, in order to safeguard Indian waters from the unwanted attention of pirates and hostile ships.

This was revealed by Vice-Admiral Pradeep Chauhan in the course of his talk on ‘India as a Net Security Provider – Indian Ocean Region and Beyond; Maritime Security and the Blue Economy’ during the concluding session of the two-day Inmex SMM Virtual Expo, last week.

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Source: seatrade-maritime.com

Huge cache of drugs seized from Sri Lanka-bound vessel

S. Vijay Kumar

The Indian Coast Guard intercepted a boat carrying a huge quantity of heroin and some foreign nationals off the Thoothukudi coast early on Wednesday. Preliminary enquiry revealed that the suspects were armed and transporting the narcotics consignment to Sri Lanka.

Defence vessels have stepped up surveillance along the eastern seaboard since Tuesday to assist fishermen in distress ahead of Cyclone Nivar. While it was not clear whether the boat was intercepted by chance or after a specific input, a senior official said initial reports confirmed the presence of foreign nationals in possession of a huge quantity of drugs.

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Source: thehindu.com