Navy commander Rear Admiral Dean McFadden said piracy is becoming a serious threat that Canadians can't ignore.
"When you talk about pirates to Canadians, the image they get is of Johnny Depp, but there are real-live pirates and their numbers are increasing," McFadden said yesterday during an editorial board meeting at The Daily News.
"The reason why that brings with it grave concern, is because it isn't penny-ante crime, it's serious criminal elements that are exploiting that."
Terrorists use pirates to further their aims, he explained.
Pirates captured the Danish cargo ship Danica White off Somalia earlier this month. In the last week of May, the World Food Program suspended humanitarian aid to Somalia because of piracy threats to its ships.
McFadden gave an example of how it's touching Nova Scotia:
A sailboat with 14 West African refugees was rescued 800 kilometres southeast of Halifax in January. They ran out of fuel, were hit by two hurricanes and their sails were damaged before they were rescued, he said.
"They were 14 people from West Africa. They were desperate to leave West Africa," McFadden said.
"So why do Canadians care? Because this isn't the far end of the Earth."
It's when people reach that level of desperation when piracy abounds, he said.
"None of this is known or of interest - it's not of interest because it's not known - by Canadians," he said.
"The fact that there is a substantial threat to our ability to use the oceans lawfully to do the work we need done ... Somali kids will die because that stuff isn't getting through. I can't help myself from feeling absolutely ashamed, and I'm a professional naval officer."
McFadden said changes to the UN rules governing the seas would help in the capturing and elimination of pirates.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007