11 Jan 2011

Frigate request welcomed

9:06 am on 11 January 2011

The meat and shipping industries are welcoming news that the Government is considering being part of an international task force to tackle piracy off the coast of Africa.

The Minister of Defence has confirmed an approach has been made by the United Nations for a New Zealand frigate to take part in piracy patrols off Somalia and Yemen.

The Meat Industry Association says almost 100% of this country's meat exports are transported by sea, so security is crucial.

The association and the New Zealand Shippers Council say it's good the Government is considering deploying a frigate.

Council chairman Greg Steed says deployment of a frigate could protect exports.

Defence Minister Wayne Mapp says a number of factors, including cost, still need to be considered. A decision is expected in six weeks.

The International Maritime Organisation reported in 2009 that the number of acts of piracy and armed robbery attempted or carried out against ships worldwide was up by almost a quarter on the previous year, rising to more than 400.

Maersk NZ says that most cargo from New Zealand to Europe goes via the Horn of Africa and the Suez Canal.

Managing director Julian Bevis says that while the amount of New Zealand exports would be relatively small and the risk of attack is minimal, it should not be discounted.