The International Bargaining Forum (IBF) has this week commenced discussions on vessels transiting through the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz.
The discussions follow 10 weeks of increased aggression against merchant ships in the area, culminating with the seizure of the Stena Impero on 19 July.
'The industry was shocked with the attacks off the coast of Fujairah on 12 May and it has been unsettling to witness the series of events over the ten weeks following. Seafarers working onboard merchant vessels that should have been accorded the right of freedom of innocent passage, have been caught up in the situation, causing great distress to them and their families. The JNG will engage in dialogue with the ITF to look at how we can best ensure the welfare of the seafarers sailing within the region' said the Joint Negotiating Group’s Chairman, Capt. Koichi Akamine.
Speaking on behalf of the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), David Heindel, Chairman of the Seafarers Section said: 'Such exposure of seafarers working on merchant vessels to life and safety risks is totally unacceptable. Our concerns for their welfare are equally shared by all constituents of the IBF. We jointly call for a diplomatic solution to the situation and to de-escalate tensions in the region, urging governments to use maximum efforts to have the crew of the Stena Impero released. We also call on governments to assure safe passage of commercial vessels in the Straits of Hormuz.'
The parties of the IBF have made a commitment to monitor the situation over the coming week and re-group for discussions next week.