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RMI operates large ship registry

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, May 30, 2009) – A group of four countries, that register more than half the world's ships, have signed a declaration at the United Nations promising to combat piracy off Africa's coast.

They are, Panama, Liberia, Bahamas and the Marshall Islands.

Piracy off Somalia's coast has emerged as the biggest threat to global merchant shipping.

So far this year, pirates operating in and around the Gulf of Aden have attacked at least 81 ships and hijacked 29, despite patrols by warships of several navies.

Speaking on behalf of the UN's anti piracy contact group, Greg Delawie from the US State Department, praised the development.

He says, "The contact group today welcomed the New York Declaration by Panama, Liberia, the Bahamas and the Marshall Islands, which calls for all ships flying their flags to adopt and implement counter measures against piracy."

"Together, just these four countries' shipping registries, account for over fifty percent of the world's shipping tonnage, making this a major step toward bolstering maritime security."

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