Experts at a seminar on ‘piracy at sea' held here on Friday said that there was a lack of political will at the international level to tackle the menace.

In his keynote address at the event organised by the Kunjali Marakkar School of Marine Engineering at Cochin University of Science and Technology, Jose Paul, former chairman of Goa Port Trust, said that a general agreement among countries in the United Nations would help reduce the risk of piracy at sea.

He said that India was receiving cooperation from other countries in checking maritime piracy. Mr. Paul said that greater consultations were required to combat the threat of piracy at sea. He also recalled that Somali pirates were getting support from outside to carry out their operations.

In his paper on ‘Indian law on piracy', A. M. Varkey of the School of Legal Studies at Cochin University of Science and Technology said that there were clear gaps in law related to piracy, both at the international and national levels. This acts as a fertile ground for pirates and terrorists. The lives of seamen held as hostages are in peril and the authorities have to take affirmative action, he said.

Prof. Varkey said that there was a need for a clear definition of the term ‘piracy'. He said that the government should consider not only the age-old piracy practices, but also present day realities.

M. P. John, principal officer in-charge of the Mercantile Marine Department, Kochi, inaugurated the programme. Godfrey Louiz, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Cochin University; A. Ramachandran, registrar; and K.A.Simon, director of Kunjali Marakkar School of Marine Engineering spoke.

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