NATO Maritime Security Symposium

By Hendrike Kühl, Policy Director, IUMI

On 4 October 2017, NATO’s Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM) invited approximately 25 maritime industry representatives, including IUMI, to engage in an exchange with military representatives from various NATO divisions at the NATO base in Northwood, UK. The purpose of the symposium was to continue dialogue between the shipping industry and MARCOM, and to develop a concrete roadmap with specific steps to leverage this business/military cooperation.

The agenda covered four key issues:  

1. Cyber threats and cyber defence

2. Illegal immigration and mitigation measures

3. Terrorism and smuggling

4. Piracy and global BMP 

Phil Tinsley, of BIMCO, presented about cyber threats onboard ships, discussing the industry cyber guidelines and specifically referred to the new section about insurance. In the discussion that followed an overriding issue was identified by all stakeholders; the problem of missing data. Reliable data is difficult to come by due to the reluctance of corporations to share information about cyber incidents. The transparency and openness of Maersk in its dealing with the ‘NotPetya’ cyber-attack was considered extremely helpful. An additional key point raised was the importance for seafarers to retain the ability to navigate with the use of paper charts in order avoid complete reliance on ECDIS and other software systems.

With regard to terrorism and smuggling it was noted that information sharing between the industry and military would be beneficial. Ideally, information would flow both ways, i.e. NATO share briefings with merchant carriers and vice versa. Industry stakeholders emphasised the importance of coordinating reporting requests as there was already a huge regulatory obligation on crews to report various sets of data.

As for piracy, the discussion showed that in the Gulf of Aden approximately 40% of vessels had armed guards on board. In Asia restrictions for armed guards were put into place by littoral states. The NATO briefings provided during the symposium were very helpful. Reporting requirements for piracy incidents from merchant ships need to be streamlined, i.e. only one organisation to report to. Illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing was named as one factor leading to new piracy incidents in Somalia and the Gulf of Guinea.

MARCOM will continue to host these meetings annually and IUMI will continue to attend.

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