??Minister of International Business and International Transport, George Hutson, presenting Joshua Phillips of Welches Primary??with his prize. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

A Government Minister has decried acts of piracy on the high seas deeming such acts unlawful and ones not to be tolerated!

Addressing a prize-giving ceremony for winners of the Maritime Week 2011 Poster Competition today, Minister of International Business and International Transport, George Hutson, said piracy had evolved as one of the greatest concerns to maritime activities, as safety and security of travellers, whether by air or sea, had become a prominent discussion point worldwide.

"Pirates in small, fast vessels are now successfully intercepting and taking control of even the largest ships and demanding ransoms for these ships, passengers, crews and cargo," Minister Hutson said, noting that while in some cases the money?? was paid?? and the vessel and crew released, in others, there was a tragic outcome with injury or loss of life.

"Neither the payment of the ransom nor damage to vessels, nor injury to crew is acceptable – such acts of seizure are not lawful and are not to be tolerated," the Minister contended.

To prevent such activity, he revealed that the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), of which Barbados was a member, had implemented a long-term anti-piracy project and had encouraged the development of regional agreements on the implementation of counter piracy measures.

On the local front, he said his?? Ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of the Environment, the Barbados Coast Guard, the Royal Barbados Police Force’s Marine Inc. and the Barbados Port Inc., "had taken measures to ensure that Barbados’ waters remain in a pristine condition for use by shipping companies, Barbadians and visitors, and that they do so without fear or harm."

In addition to conducting regular inspections on vessels calling at the Bridgetown Port, to ensure?? adherence?? to international?? standards for safety, as well as?? living and working conditions for crew,?? he???? said?? the Ministry was also in the process of reviewing relevant legislation?? and conventions?? to ensure the continued safety and security of operators and water users. He added that they were also considering initiatives to enhance cooperation with watersports operators.

"However, no matter how young or old we are, we also have a role to play in our safety and security at sea. We must respect the oceans and not pollute them by tossing refuse into the waters. We must make sure that when we are passengers on a vessel that we are properly briefed and follow the safety regulations, that we use the appropriate safety gear, and as residents of a country surrounded by water, learn to swim," the Minister advised.

Three schools participated in the competition under the theme: Safety and Security at Sea – Welches Primary, Charles F. Broome Primary and The Rock Christian School.

Joshua Phillips of Welches Primary came out tops in the five to seven years age category, with Woletta-Israel Yaicob of the Rock Christian placing second.

In the eight to eleven years age group, the top prize went to Charles F. Broome’s Chaquon Griffith; while Zera Yaicob A. Yaicob of The Rock Christian placed second and his schoolmate DeQuan Carter placed third.


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