As Reported HERE
A SPANISH fishing trawler repelled an attack by pirates off Madagascar yesterday , as South Africa warned that piracy could spread down the continent.
The Echebasta company said: “The boat took evasive manoeuvres and was able to leave the area without suffering any harm to personnel.”
It is the first such attempt recorded in the Mozambique Channel, far further south than most of the attacks, which occur off the coast of Somalia.
The Spanish seiner (tuna boat) was attacked just after pulling back its nets and spotted the pirate skiff when it was only one nautical mile away.
Since foreign navies deployed an armada of warships to curb attacks in the busy Gulf of Aden, Somalia’s ransom-hunting pirates have ventured further away from their coast to capture prey.
The French and Spanish tuna- fishing fleets based in the Indian Ocean had been attacked mainly around the Seychelles archipelago but pirates had rarely ventured as far south as Madagascar.
Last year, another Spanish tuna fishing vessel, the Alakrana, and its crew of 36 were taken hostage for more than a month off the coast of Somalia, where pirates have bases. They were freed after paying a ransom of 4million (about R31.9m) , according to the Somali pirates who captured them.
Yesterday, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe warned an African Renaissance conference in Durban: “If we allow such an illegal activity to fester in one part of Africa, we are sending an open invitation for it to spread to other parts of Africa.”
The conference was attended by delegates from many African countries.
Radebe said South Africa did not rejoice in the fact that the long route around Cape Town was being considered a viable alternative to the Somali coast, which was infested by pirates.
South Africa believed that the whole continent should find a solution to the problem.
Although most pirate activity took place in international waters, a response strategy in terms of jurisprudence was needed, Radebe said.
The Baltic and International Maritime Council recently urged Somalia and other African countries to co-operate in fighting piracy off their shores. — Sapa