The Philippines has ordered its seafarers, who constitute about a third of the world's commercial sailors, to go through anti-piracy training before they will be allowed to board ships, the labor secretary said Monday.

The training, which lasts about eight hours, will be mandatory starting January 15. The measure is a response to a wave of ship hijackings, which remain a serious problem a year after an international naval armada began operating off Somalia to protect shipping lanes.

Sailors will be taught how to manoeuvre their vessels to prevent pirates from boarding them. They will also learn how to manage hostage crises if they are taken captive.

The Philippines supplies about a third of the 1.5 million commercial seafarers worldwide. Somali pirates have kidnapped 470 Filipinos since 2006, and are still holding at least 74 aboard six ships.

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