"Piracy is a major threat to international shipping and the problem has become very acute in the last 2-3 years, particularly around the Gulf of Aden. The Ministry is committed to brining back our sailors safely," Vasan said at the 1st anniversary of 'Day of the Seafarer' organised here.
The Government has been successful in releasing 150 Indian seafarers safely so far. "Thirty nine Indian seafarers are still held hostage by Somalian pirates. The Ministry of Shipping is working in close coordination with the Navy, MEA and the ship owners to secure the release of the seafarers. We hope to secure their release at the earliest," he said.
He also called for a more coordinated and stronger response from the international community to control this problem. "We have been raising the issue in all the international forums to build international pressure. There is a need for a unified force under the UN to fight piracy," Vasan said.
On the occasion, the Minister said that the Government would be starting a Contributory Annuity Scheme by the Seamen's Provident Fund Organisation (SPFO), so that, the seafarers are assured of a monthly income through the scheme.
He also said that the Ministry has proposed to increase the amount presently being paid under the Monthly Ex-Gratia Monetary Scheme (MEMA), which is only Rs 200 per month.