Many people think piracy is a problem of the past, which died out with Blackbeard. But the grim reality is that piracy and armed attacks on shipping remain a serious threat to today's merchant seafarers. In the past five years alone, more than 2,000 seafarers have been killed, assaulted, taken hostage or threatened in areas that offer little protection against such attacks.

The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) constantly monitors piracy 'hotspots' - recently the Gulf of Aden and the coast of Nigeria have been identified as danger zones. Other areas of piracy prevalence include (but are not limited to) Indonesia, India and Tanzania.

Piracy attacks on ships are becoming increasingly violent and national authorities need to be more vigilant against attacks in their waters. Left unchecked, attacks on merchant shipping will present an increasing threat to the security of world trade, the safety of seafarers and passengers, and to the marine environment.

Nautilus is constantly lobbying governments to provide proper protection for shipping, including the deployment of multinational naval forces in high-risk areas. The Union also works within the industry to persuade shipping companies to provide better security equipment for ships, and to increase crew levels to cope with the additional watches and patrols required in dangerous zones.

Nautilus is also working to secure improved mechanisms for negotiating 'war risk' agreements with shipowners, to ensure that the risks of piracy 'hotspots' are taken seriously and additional safeguards can be provided to seafarers in terms of insurance and contractual rights.

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