28 Sep 2011

Exporters urge protection of trade routes

8:37 am on 28 September 2011

Business leaders say the government has an obligation to keep protecting the shipping lanes New Zealand uses for its trade, as its involvement in an anti-piracy taskforce comes to an end.

Royal New Zealand Navy captain Jim Gilmour was the first New Zealand officer to command a multi-national taskforce in decades.

Captain Gilmour, who took charge of the counter-piracy vessel in the Gulf of Aden in June, has handed over command. The Pakistan Navy is taking up the role.

The anti-piracy force covered an area of about 1.1 million square miles in the Gulf of Aden and off the eastern coast of Somalia, where hundreds of people have been taken hostage by pirates.

The managing director of shipping firm Maersk New Zealand, Julian Bevis, estimates about three quarters of the country's Europe-bound exports go through the Gulf of Aden.

Export New Zealand says some 99.6% of New Zealand's exports go by shipping container.

The organisation's executive director, Catherine Beard, says New Zealand needs to play its part.