Spain Does U-turn on Armed Trawler Guards
The Spanish government has finally relented and agreed to allow its fishing companies to install armed guards on its trawlers operating in pirate infested waters.
The Spanish trawler Alakrana and her 36-strong crew were captured by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean over a month ago and there was an outcry from the fishing industry when Madrid said it would be against Spanish law to put its troops or police on fishing vessels.
However, Madrid has now met the industry half way by agreeing to armed private security guards. Deputy prime minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega told journalists after a cabinet meeting the new law would apply to Spanish-flagged ships outside Spanish waters to guard against risk to people and property.
‘Security may be offered by guards using authorised weapons suitable for effectively complying with prevention and protection duties,’ she said.
Meanwhile, the government said it was working on all fronts to free the crew of the Alakrana, a tuna-fishing vessel captured by pirates on Oct. 2.
Two of the suspected pirates were captured by a Spanish naval ship and have been brought to Spain to face trial on charges of terrorism and robbery.
Last year crew members of another Spanish boat were freed by pirates in the area after a $1.2 million ransom payment, according to a Somali official.
Pirates have turned their guns on European fishing boats in recent weeks and in one incident recently armed guards on a French trawler opened fire on their attackers and successfully beat them off.