Gurkhas to boost security on boats


10-November-2011

Mr Morgan during the interview yesterday. Next to him is Captain Joachim Valmont of the Seychelles Maritime Safety Administration

Boats used to ferry tourists to areas they were being discouraged to go may also use the security service. Foreign cargo ships bringing goods to Seychelles may request for the soldiers to be flown to them as they start their Seychelles-bound trips.

Home Affairs, Environment, Transport and Energy Minister Joel Morgan said this yesterday, elaborating on the tough security measures President James Michel on Tuesday said he has asked be put in place for the security of our fishermen and to safeguard our economy which is being affected by piracy.
Mr Michel was speaking when he went to Belvedere where he expressed his support for the families of Seychellois fishermen Rolly Tambara and Mark Songoire, who were taken hostage by Somali pirates on November 2, and are now being held in Somalia.

Yesterday Mr Morgan – who heads the high-level committee on piracy – said negotiations have started with the pirates as well as other people and groups, for the release of the two men, whom he said are in high spirits.

Mr Morgan noted French or Spanish ships, for example, that have armed men on board have been 100% able to repulse attacks by pirates, hence Seychelles has decided to employ the Ghurkas since we do not have enough local soldiers to cater for all the boats needing protection.

He said those who ask for the service will be expected to pay part of the cost at tariffs that are being worked out, noting small boats which may not have enough space on board for extra men can be protected as a group.

He urged all vessel owners and operators to ensure they have on board Vehicle Monitoring Systems (VMS) that are in working order and which they should keep “on” all the time.

He noted that switching the systems off will be taken as an emergency and rescue operations will begin immediately, on the assumption that pirates have captured the boats and forced the crew to switch off the VMS.

Mr Morgan said it appeared that Messrs Tambara and Songoire’s VMS had been switched off either by the fishermen or pirates, and they seemed to have sailed away from other local boats.

Mr Morgan and Captain Joachim Valmont of the Seychelles Maritime Safety Administration talked more about the need to keep the VMS on, giving details we hope to publish tomorrow.

“Pirates are now aware that French and Spanish boats have armed protection and are avoiding such ships because there are instances where the buccaneers have been injured after attempted attacks.

He noted the artisanal fishermen make fish available for our local consumption, while the semi-industrial fishers sell to hotels and export some of their catch, and cutting back on their activities for fear of pirates is making fish expensive because there is so little of it available.

Piracy is also affecting the tourism industry, hence the heightened steps to deal with it, he said.

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