The Shared Awareness and Deconfliction conference (SHADE) was held in Bahrain this past week, with representatives from 31 nations convening on the island nation.
The conference, hosted by the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), is held to further discussion about the future of the international efforts to rid the Indian Ocean of pirates. Military officials, government officials, and representatives of the shipping industry all gathered at the 27th installment of the quarterly conference.
NATO and EUNAVFOR were also leading organizers of the conference, as those two organizations have done the bulk of the work patrolling the Indian Ocean and conducting counter-piracy operations.
The conference allows a forum for representatives to discuss current issues and share information that they have gathered in their specific areas. In the international fight against piracy, cooperation and specifically information sharing is a key element in successfully deterring pirate attacks.
One of the main topics of discussion was the use of best practices for maritime vessels to use in order to prevent hijacking in the first place. These practices include using armed security guards, travelling at higher speeds, using evasive maneuvering and even fortifying the defense of the vessel.
Many different participants in the conference stressed that while there has been a recent decrease in piracy, this does not mean that anyone can get complacent. In fact, much of the success in combatting the problem only came when merchants began to take the issue seriously and prepare in advance.
Another note on the conference is the participant of the non CMF, NATO or EUNAVOR nations Russia, China and India. While these countries are, or are becoming, major global players, they certainly have an established interest in securing the shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean. This was an excellent opportunity to liaise with these nations and share vital information– their absence from the other regional alliances sometimes isolates them, diminishing the amount of aid they are able to give the effort overal.