Dealing with the threat of drug trafficking is now a bigger challenge to seafarers than piracy, according to a special advisor for the International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners (Intercargo), which also called for better treatment of seafarers around the issue. 

The association highlighted that the risk of being arrested over drug activity on their ships means that people may be put off becoming seafarers, as police will often arrest an entire crew if drugs are found on a bulker ship as they are more likely to have had knowledge of the activity. 

Speaking to the press at Intercargo’s annual meeting in Athens, vice chairman Captain Uttam Kumar Jaiswai said: “We need to see radical changes in the treatment of seafarers, otherwise there won’t be seafarers.” 

Intercargo special advisor Captain Jay Pillai also said: “Piracy used to be the issue, now the drug menace has become the biggest challenge for seafarers.” 

According to TradeWinds, Kumar Jaiswai blamed issues with ports for the presence of drugs on board a ship and described the seafarer as becoming the “innocent victim.” 

The comments came a few days after the association, which represents one-third of the global dry bulk fleet, published its annual review in which the Secretary General Kostas G. Gkonis said that seafarers and their safety remained at the forefront of considerations by Intercargo. 

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By GlobalData

The review also highlighted that piracy and armed robbery incidents had dropped 45% in West Africa while the Straits of Malacca and Singapore were the most affected areas with 72 recorded incidents. 

The issue of drug smuggling at ports reached a drastic point in Mexico earlier this year when the Mexican Government brought in the United Nations to help it tackle drug trafficking at the Port of Manzanillo, which had become an entry point from imports from China.